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Cases Raising Claims Under the Language Minority Provisions of the Voting Rights Act

United States v. Orange County, NY  (S.D.N.Y. 2012)

On April 19, court in United States v. Orange County Board of Elections (S.D.N.Y.) entered the parties' proposed consent decree. The Department had filed the complaint on April 18, and proposed consent decree on April 19. The complaint alleges that Orange County failed to comply with the requirements of Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act by not providing critical election-related information and language assistance in Spanish to thousands of limited English proficient Puerto Rican voters. Under the agreement, the county must implement a comprehensive bilingual elections program, including providing bilingual ballots county-wide and hiring and training more bilingual workers to offer effective language assistance at the polls.

United States v. Colfax County, NE  (D. Neb. 2012)

On February 27, the Department filed a complaint alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide all election materials, information and assistance in Spanish that are already provided in English. On March 2, 2012, the Court entered a consent order as well the authorization of federal observers until March 30, 2015.

United States v. Lorain County, OH  (N.D. Ohio 2011)

On October 7, the Department simultaneously filed a complaint and settlement agreement to protect the rights of Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican voters in the case United States v. Lorain County. The complaint alleged that the County did not comply with the requirements of Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act by not providing critical election-related information and assistance in Spanish to LEP Puerto Rican voters. Lorain County and the Department also filed a joint stipulation that sought a court order to permit Defendants to delay answering the complaint until April 20, 2014, and to authorize federal observers through March 30, 2014. On October 7, a federal district court judge granted the proposed order. Under the agreement, the County will provide a bilingual machine ballot and hire more bilingual workers starting with the November 8, 2011 election. The County will take additional steps to create a compliant bilingual election program beginning with elections held in 2012.

United States v. Alameda County, CA  (N.D. Cal. 2011)

On June 30, 2011, the Department filed a complaint in United States v. Alameda County (N.D. Cal.). The complaint alleged that Alameda County violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act by having failed to provide effective access to the electoral process for Spanish and Chinese-speaking citizens who need language assistance and translated materials and information to cast an informed ballot. Alameda County has been continuously covered under Section 203 for Spanish and Chinese languages since 1992. On October 19, 2011 the Court entered a consent decree, and the County must provide bilingual language assistance at the polls and election-related materials and information in Spanish and Chinese and newly covered languages as determined by the Census Bureau. The parties have agreed that federal observers may monitor Election Day activities in polling places in Alameda County.

United States v. Cuyahoga County, OH (N.D. Ohio 2010)

On September 1, 2010, the Department simultaneously filed a complaint and settlement agreement with Cuyahoga County, OH to protect the rights of Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican voters under Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint alleged that the county did not provide critical election-related information in Spanish to limited-English proficient Puerto Rican voters, including the ballot, and failed to provide an adequate number of bilingual poll officials trained to assist Spanish-speaking voters on Election Day. On September 3, 2010, the Court entered the agreement, judgment and order.

United States v. Riverside County, CA  (C.D. Cal. 2010)

On February 12, 2010, the Department filed a complaint against Riverside County, CA, along with a memorandum of agreement. The complaint alleged that the County violated the minority language requirements of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to implement an effective bilingual election program for Spanish-speaking voters. On April 30, 2010, the three-judge court entered an order granting the parties' joint motion for extension of time for the Defendant's to answer the United States' complaint and to authorize federal observers under Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act to monitor Riverside County elections through March 31, 2013.

United States v. Fort Bend County, TX  (S.D. Tex. 2009)

On April 9, 2009, the Department simultaneously filed a complaint against and proposed consent decree with Fort Bend County, TX. The complaint alleges the county failed to implement an effective bilingual election program for Spanish-speaking voters in violation of Section 4(f)(4) of the VRA and failed to allow eligible voters to receive assistance from the persons of their choice in violation of Section 208 of the VRA. The complaint also alleges that the county failed to offer provisional ballots to eligible voters in federal elections, and it failed to provide required information to provisional voters, in violation of HAVA. On April 13, 2009, the court entered the consent decree.

United States v. Salem County and the Borough of Penns Grove, NJ, et al  (D.N.J. 2008)

On July 28, 2008, the Department simultaneously filed a complaint and proposed settlement agreement against Salem County and the Borough of Penns Grove, NJ alleging that the parties violated the Voting Rights Act against Latino voters with disparate treatment, lack of Spanish-language materials and the denial to voters of the right to choose their assistor of choice. On July 29, the court entered the settlement agreement.

United States v. Kane County, IL  (N.D. Ill 2007)

On September 26, 2007, the Department filed a complaint against Kane County alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Hispanic voters. On November 7, the court entered an order granting the joint motion for extension of time for the Defendants to answer the United States' complaint and ordering the appointment of federal observers until December 31, 2010. The joint motion was submitted as part of a Memorandum of Agreement between the United States and Kane County which will ensure compliance with Sections 203 and 208 of the Voting Rights Act.

United States v. City of Earth, TX  (N.D. Tex 2007)

On September 4, 2007, the court entered a consent decree in Texas. On July 16, 2007, the Department filed a complaint against the City of Earth alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Hispanic voters.

United States v. Littlefield ISD, TX  (N.D. Tex 2007)

On September 4, 2007, the court entered a consent decree in Texas. On July 16, 2007, the Department filed a complaint against the Littlefield ISD alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Hispanic voters.

United States v. Post ISD, TX  (N.D. Tex 2007)

On September 4, 2007, the court entered a consent decree in Texas. On July 16, 2007, the Department filed a complaint against the Post ISD alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Hispanic voters.

United States v. City of Seagraves ISD, TX  (N.D. Tex 2007)

On September 4, 2007, the court entered a consent decree in Texas. On July 16, 2007, the Department filed a complaint against the Seagraves ISD alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Hispanic voters.

United States v. Smyer ISD, TX  (N.D. Tex 2007)

On September 4, 2007, the court entered a consent decree in Texas. On July 16, 2007, the Department filed a complaint against the Smyer ISD alleging violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Hispanic voters.

United States v. Galveston County, TX (S.D. Tex. 2007)

On July 16, 2007, the United States filed a complaint against Galveston County under Section 4(f)(4) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The complaint alleges that the County failed to translate election materials and provide assistance for limited-English proficient Spanish speaking voters. On July 20, 2007, the court entered the consent decree.

United States v. City of Walnut, CA (C.D. Ca. 2007)

On November 9, 2007, the court entered a consent decree to ensure that the City translate election materials and provide assistance for limited-English proficient Chinese and Korean voters and ordering the appointment of federal observers until December 31, 2010. On April 12, 2007, the United States filed a complaint against the City of Walnut, CA under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint alleged that the City failed to translate election materials and provide assistance for limited-English proficient Chinese and Korean voters.

United States v. City of Philadelphia, PA (E.D. Pa. 2006)

On October 13, 2006, the United States filed a complaint against the City of Philadelphia, PA, under Sections 203 and 208 of the Voting Rights Act for failing to establish an effective Spanish bilingual program and for denying limited-English proficient voters their assistor of choice. On April 26, 2007, the United States filed an amended complaint, contemporaneously with the signing of a settlement agreement. The amended complaint further alleged violations of Sections 2 of the Voting Rights Act as the election system and procedures denied minority voters equal access to the election process, and 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act for its failure to provide election information to citizens educated in Spanish in American flag schools in Puerto Rico; violations of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 for failing to provide alternative-language information; and a violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 for failing to remove deceased voters from the rolls. The settlement agreement, among other things, requires the defendants to establish an effective bilingual program, including bilingual interpreters and alternative-language information; to allow limited-English proficient voters to utilize assistors of choice; to provide alternative-language information; and to undertake a program of voter list maintenance. On June 4, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered an order retaining jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement until July 1, 2009. On July 14, 2008, the settlement agreement was amended.

United States v. City of Springfield, MA (D. Mass. 2006)

On August 2, 2006, the United States filed a complaint against the City of Springfield, MA alleging violations of Sections 203 and 208 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The complaint alleges that the city failed to provide an adequate pool of bilingual workers to serve its Spanish-speaking voters, and that its poll workers interfered with the ability of voters to receive assistance from the persons of their choice. On September 15, 2006, a settlement agreement was entered which will allow the Department to monitor future elections in the City of Springfield and will require the City to increase the number of bilingual poll workers, employ a bilingual coordinator, and establish a bilingual advisory group. On January 16, the Court granted an extension to the settlement order until January 31, 2010.

United States v. Brazos County,  (S.D. Tex. 2006)

On June 28, 2006, the United States filed a complaint against Brazos County, TX alleging violations of Sections 4(f)(4) and 208 of the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, the United States alleged that Brazos County had violated Section 4(f)(4) by failing to translate all election-related material into Spanish and by failing to provide an adequate number of bilingual poll workers trained to assist Spanish-speaking voters on election day. The United States also alleged that Brazos County violated Section 208 by failing to ensure that voters who were disabled, blind, or illiterate were allowed to use their chosen assistors. A consent decree, entered by the court on June 29, 2006, requires, among other things, that the county increase the number of bilingual poll workers, translate all election-related material in Spanish, and permit voters their assistor of choice consistent with Section 208. The consent decree expired on March 1, 2009.

United States v. Cochise County, AZ (D. Ariz 2006)

On June 16, 2006, the United States filed a complaint against Cochise County, AZ for violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Section 302 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The complaint alleged that Cochise County violated Section 203 requirements by failing to provide an adequate number of bilingual poll workers trained to assist Spanish-speaking voters on election day and by failing to publicize effectively election information in Spanish. On October 12, 2006, the court entered a consent decree which requires the County to translate all its election related materials into Spanish and hire an adequate number of poll workers and which authorizes the assignment of federal observers to monitor elections in the County.

United States v. Hale County, TX (N.D. Tex. 2006)

On February 27, 2006, the United States filed a complaint alleging that Hale County in Texas violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The complaint alleges that Hale County violated Section 203 requirements by failing to provide for an adequate number of bilingual poll workers trained to assist Spanish-speaking voters on election day and by failing to publicize effectively election information in Spanish. On April 27, 2006, a consent decree was entered which will allow the Department to monitor future elections in Hale County and will require the County to increase the number of bilingual poll workers, employ a bilingual coordinator, and establish a bilingual advisory group.

United States v. Ector County, TX (W.D. Tex. 2005)

On August 23, 2005, the United States filed a complaint alleging that Ector County in Texas violated Section 4(f)(4) of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint claimed that the county failed to provide an adequate number of bilingual workers to serve the county's Spanish-speaking population and failed to effectively publicize information to the Spanish-speaking community. The consent decree, which was approved by a federal district judge on August 26, requires the county to establish an effective Spanish language program and authorizes the use of federal observers to monitor the county's elections.

United States v. City of Boston, MA (D. Mass. 2005)

On July 29, 2005, the United States filed a complaint against the City of Boston under Sections 2 and 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint alleged that the City's election practices and procedures discriminate against members of language-minority groups, specifically persons of Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese heritage, so as to deny and abridge their right to vote in violation of Section 2. The suit also alleged that the City has violated Section 203 by failing to make all election information available in Spanish to voters who need it. On October 18, 2005, the three-judge court issued an Order/Memorandum of Agreement and Settlement authorizing federal examiners through December 31, 2008; retaining the courtís jurisdiction through expiration of the federal examiner designation and the agreement, both to occur on December 31, 2008; and providing that either the Department or the City may petition to the court to resolve any disputes during the life of the agreement.

United States v. City of Azusa, CA (C.D. Cal. 2005)

On July 14, 2005, the United States filed a complaint and proposed consent decree alleging that the City of Azusa violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint claimed that the city failed to translate much of its election-related information into Spanish, as required by the Act. The consent decree, was approved on August 26 by a three judge federal court, requires the city to establish an effective Spanish language program and authorizes the use of federal observers to monitor the city's elections.

United States v. City of Paramount, CA (C.D. Cal. 2005)

On July 14, 2005, the United States filed a complaint and proposed consent decree alleging that the City of Paramount violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint claimed that the city failed to translate much of its election-related information into Spanish, as required by the Act. The consent decree, which was approved on August 23, requires the city to establish an effective Spanish language program and authorizes the use of federal observers to monitor the city's elections.

United States v. City of Rosemead, CA (C.D. Cal. 2005)

On July 14, 2005, the United States filed a complaint and proposed consent decree alleging that the City of Rosemead violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint claimed that the city failed to translate most of its election-related information into Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese or to provide bilingual assistance at polling sites in those languages, as required by the Act. The consent decree, was approved by a three judge court, and requires the city to establish effective Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese language election programs and authorizes the use of federal observers to monitor the city's elections.

United States v. Westchester County (S.D. NY 2005)

In this action, the United States alleged in its complaint that the county had violated both Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to have an effective Spanish language election program and Section 302 of the Help America Vote Act by failing to post the information required by the section to be posted in polling places. On July 19, 2005, a consent decree resolving both claims was approved by a three-judge court. The decree would require the county to provide a Spanish language election program and assure compliance with the Help America Vote Act. On January 3, 2008, the consent decree was extended through December 31, 2008.

United States v. San Benito County (N.D. Cal. 2004)

In this action, the United States alleged in its complaint that the county had violated both Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to have an effective Spanish language election program and Section 302 of the Help America Vote Act by failing to post the information required by that section to be posted in polling places and by failing to provide the requisite written information regarding the process of casting a provisional ballot. The court entered a consent decree, requiring the county to provide a Spanish language election program. This consent decree expired on December 31, 2006.

United States v. San Diego County (S.D. Cal. 2004)

In this case, the United States' complaint alleged that the county's practices and procedures concerning Spanish heritage and Filipino voters violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The United States and the county agreed to a memorandum of agreement and a stipulated order, both of which were filed on June 23, 2004. The agreement provides for Spanish and Tagalog (Filipino) language election programs, and also a complete Vietnamese language program to serve a minority language group that narrowly missed the threshold for Section 203 coverage. The court signed the order, including an interlocutory order providing for the appointment of federal examiners and observers pursuant to Section 3 of the Act on July 7, 2004. The agreement expired on March 31, 2007; Section 3 coverage expired following the 2006 general election, absent a motion for additional relief based on non-compliance by the county.

United States v. Ventura County (C.D. Cal. 2004)

The United States claimed that the county violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint alleged that the county did not have sufficient bilingual polls officials and did not translate all election-related information into Spanish, as required by the Act. On September 2, 2004, the court entered a consent decree, which requires the county establish an effective Spanish language election program. The decree, which expires on August 1, 2007, provides that if the county is not complying with the decree's requirements, the United States would have an additional 90 days to move for additional relief.

United States v. Suffolk County (E.D. N.Y. 2004)

The United States alleged in its complaint that the county violated Section 203 by not having sufficient bilingual election officials, not translating all election-related information into Spanish, as required by the Act, and by failing to adequately train its election officials to prevent hostile treatment of Hispanic voters, who are limited-English proficient. On October 4, 2004, the court entered a consent decree, which requires the county establish an effective Spanish language election program. The decree, which expired on January 31, 2008, also permitted the assignment of federal observers to monitor county elections.

United States v. Yakima County (E.D. Wash. 2004)

In its complaint, the United States alleged that the county had violated Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act by not providing effective election-related materials, information, and/or assistance in Spanish to those persons who were limited English proficient. The United States and the county were able to resolve the matter with a consent decree  (Esp.) that required the county to establish an effective Spanish language election program. This consent decree expired on December 31, 2006.

United States v. Brentwood Union Free School District (E.D. N.Y. 2003)

The United States alleged in its complaint that the Brentwood School District had violated Section 203 because it did not have sufficient bilingual election officials, did not translate all election-related information into Spanish, as required by the Act, and failed to adequately train its election officials to prevent hostile treatment of Hispanic voters who are limited-English proficient. On July 14, 2003, the court entered a consent decree, which requires the county establish an effective Spanish language election program. The decree, which expired on January 31, 2007, also permitted the assignment of federal observers to monitor school district elections.

United States v. Berks County (E.D. Pa. 2003)

The United States alleged in its complaint that the county violated several sections of the Voting Rights Act. The facts showed that the county discriminated against Hispanic individuals, primarily Puerto Rican voters, through hostile treatment at the polls, failure to provide adequate language assistance, and by not permitting Hispanic voters to bring assistors of their choice into the polling place. These actions resulted in violations of Sections 2, 4(e), and 208 of the Voting Rights Act. The court granted a preliminary injunction on March 18, 2003, and permanent relief on August 20, 2003. Both decisions resulted in increased protection for Hispanic voters. Since the court entered its decision, the Department has monitored elections, utilizing federal observers pursuant to a provision of the order, to ensure compliance with the court's order.

United States v. Orange County (M.D. Fla. 2002)

On June 28, 2002, the United States filed a complaint against Orange County, FL alleging violations of Sections 203 and 208 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint alleged that the county failed to provide an adequate number of bilingual workers to serve its Spanish-speaking voters, and that its poll workers interfered with the ability of voters to receive assistance from the persons of their choice. A consent decree, signed by a three judge court on October 8, 2002, required the City to increase the number of bilingual poll workers and to permit voters their assistors of choice consistent with Section 208. The consent decree expired on January 31, 2005.

United States v. Bernalillo County (D.N.M. 1998)

In 1998, the United States filed its complaint alleging that Bernalillo County had violated Sections 2 and 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide voting and election information in the Navajo language, an American Indian language that is historically unwritten. The parties initially resolved this case that year through a consent decree that required the county to establish an effective Native American Election Information Program. On July 1, 2003, a three-judge federal court entered an order approving a Stipulation which extended certain provisions of the consent decree through January 31, 2005.

United States v. Cibola County (D.N.M. 1993)

In its complaint, filed in 1993, the United States alleged that Cibola County had violated Sections 2 and 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide voting and election information in the Keresan and Navajo languages, American Indian languages that are historically unwritten. The parties initially resolved this case in 1994 through a stipulation and order that required the county to establish an effective Native American Election Information Program. On May 3, 2004, a three-judge federal court entered an order approving a joint stipulation, which modified the original one, and extended it through December 31, 2006. An amended complaint was filed on January 31, 2007 which added claims under the NVRA and the HAVA. Simultaneous with that filing, the parties filed joint papers resolving those claims as well as extending a prior consent decree. The court entered the second order on March 19, 2007. On October 8, 2009, the court entered an order extending and modifying the existing stipulations until March 15, 2011. On June 15, 2011, a Letter of Agreement was signed by the United States and Cibola County and is binding until March 1, 2013.

United States v. Socorro County (D.N.M. 1993)

The United States initiated this action in 1993 with its complaint alleging that the county had violated Sections 2 and 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide voting and election information in the Navajo language, an American Indian language that is historically unwritten. The parties initially resolved this case in 1994 through a consent agreement that required the county to establish an effective Navajo language program. On July 13, 2004, a three-judge federal court issued an order extending the federal examiner provision of that consent agreement through December 15, 2004.

United States v. New Mexico and Sandoval County (D.N.M. 1988)

On July 6, 2011 a three-judge court entered an order granting the joint motion for a limited consent decree, modified letter of agreement, amended joint stipulation and consent decree and joint motion and memorandum in support of the order entering limited consent decree. On November 28, 2007, a three-judge court entered an order and amended joint stipulation, modifying and extending the existing consent decree until January 31, 2009. The United States filed a complaint alleging that the State of New Mexico and Sandoval County had violated Sections 2 and 203 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide voting and election information in Keres and Navajo, American Indian languages that are historically unwritten. The parties initially resolved this case in 1990 through a settlement agreement that required the State and County to implement a Native American Election Information Program (NAEIP). Pursuant to the agreement, the case was dismissed against the state defendants on December 31, 1990. On September 9, 1994, the court entered a consent decree proposed by the County and the United States, which modified the original NAEIP and extended the modified program through September 9, 2004. On November 8, 2004, the court entered an order approving a joint stipulation between the County and the United States, which further modified the NAEIP and extended its provisions through January 15, 2007. On April 3, 2007, the United States and the County filed a joint motion seeking the current extension.

General Information Voting Section
Contact
Toll-free - (800) 253-3931
Telephone - (202) 307-2767
Fax - (202) 307-3961
Email - voting.section@usdoj.gov

By letter to the addresses below:

Mailing Contact
United States Postal Service mail (including certified mail and express mail) should be addressed to:

Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Room 7254 - NWB
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Deliveries by overnight express service (such as Airborne, DHL, Federal Express or UPS) should be addressed to:

Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Room 7254 - NWB
1800 G St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
Redistricting Census Information
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