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Cases Raising Claims Under Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act

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 consent decree 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.

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 208 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 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.

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 expires on March 1, 2009.

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. 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  (S.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. Miami-Dade County  (S.D. Fla. 2002)

On June 7, 2002, the United States filed a complaint against Miami-Dade County alleging a violation of Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act arising from the November 2000 Presidential election. The complaint alleged that county poll officials effectively prevented Creole-speaking Haitian-American voters in Miami-Dade County with limited ability to understand English from securing assistance at the polls from persons of their choice. On June 17, 2002, the court approved a consent order which required the county to implement and train officials on the requirements of Section 208, assign bilingual English/Creole-speaking pollworkers in precincts with significant numbers of Haitian voters, post a Creole language version of the Voter's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and monitor the performance of election officials on election day. In addition, the parties agreed to permit the United States to monitor elections through December 31, 2005.

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

The complaint filed by the United States in this case alleged that the county violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Hispanic voters through hostile treatment at the polls and the failure to provide adequate language assistance. In addition, it alleged the county violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by not permitting Hispanic voters to bring assistors of their choice into the polling places. On July 22, 2002, the parties entered a consent decree remedying the violations.

General Information Voting Section
Contact

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Telephone - (202) 307-2767
Fax - (202) 307-3961
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Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
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950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

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