WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that it has entered into a consent decree with Waller County, Texas, to resolve a lawsuit concerning the county’s voter registration practices that the Department alleges violate federal voting rights laws. The agreement, which must first be approved by a federal court in Houston, will eliminate several invalid registration practices that have primarily impacted students at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college in Waller County.
The Department’s complaint, filed by the Civil Rights Division in conjunction with the consent decree, alleges that Waller County implemented several changes in registration practices without first receiving administrative or judicial preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The changes relate to the County’s administration of its volunteer deputy registrar program, standards for accepting voter registration applications and notice requirements. In addition, the suit alleges that the County violated a provision of the Civil Rights Act, by rejecting certain registration applications on immaterial grounds.
Under the terms of the consent decree, the County has agreed to abandon implementation of the unprecleared registration practices, reprocess those applications which were wrongly rejected and initiate voter registration programs on the Prairie View A&M University campus.
"The Voting Rights Act protects the right of Americans to participate in our great democracy by registering to vote and casting a ballot in our electoral process," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "By promptly agreeing to settle this matter, the County has demonstrated a commitment to addressing past problems and to complying with federal law in the future."
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s 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 Web site at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.