WASHINGTON Ė The Justice Department today announced that on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, it will monitor the municipal election in the City of Walnut, Calif., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to areas that are specially covered in the Act or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities for the election in Walnut pursuant to a federal court order entered in 2007.
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act requires that certain jurisdictions with a substantial language minority citizen voter population provide all voting materials and assistance in the minority language, as well as in English. Under Section 203, the City of Walnut is obligated to provide materials and assistance to Korean-speaking and Chinese-speaking voters at the polls. The Justice Departmentís lawsuit against the City of Walnut to ensure compliance was the first lawsuit ever filed by the Civil Rights Division on behalf of Korean-American voters.
The federal observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in this jurisdiction. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country. In calendar year 2006, for example, 966 federal observers and 575 Department personnel were sent to monitor 119 elections in 81 jurisdictions in 24 states. To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.