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R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General

CAROL C. LAM
United States Attorney
TOM STAHL, CA Bar #078291
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Federal Office Building
880 Front Street, Room 6293
San Diego, California 92101-8893
Telephone: (619) 557-7140
Facsimile: (619) 557-5004

JOSEPH D. RICH, Chief
JOHN TANNER, Special Counsel
SUSANA LORENZO-GIGUERE, Trial Attorney
Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. - NWB-7254
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone: (202) 514-9822
Facsimile: (202) 307-3961

Counsel for Plaintiff
United States of America

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,             
                                                                                                CIVIL ACTION NO.
                                                                     
                                       Plaintiff,                                           04CV1273JEG
                                                                     
                                                                     
                                       v.                                                      COMPLAINT
                                                                     
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA;     
SALLY MCPHERSON, REGISTRAR OF   
VOTERS, in her official                               
capacity; and the SAN DIEGO                     
COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS,     
                                                                     
                                       Defendants.            
                                                                      
____________________________________


     The United States of America, Plaintiff herein, alleges:

     1.  The Attorney General files this action pursuant to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("Section 203"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a; 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-2; and 28 U.S.C. 2201.

     2.  Jurisdiction:  The Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1345 and 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-2. In accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-2 and 28 U.S.C. 2284, the Section 203 claim must be heard and determined by a court of three judges.

     3.  Defendant SAN DIEGO COUNTY is a political and geographical subdivision of the State of California.

     4.  Defendant SALLY MCPHERSON is the Registrar of Voters of San Diego County. In her capacity as Registrar of Voters, Defendant MCPHERSON has responsibilities concerning the administration of voting and elections in San Diego County. Defendant McPherson is a resident of San Diego County, and is being sued in her official capacity as Registrar of Voters.

     5.  Defendant SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS is the primary budgetary authority for the County and for the Registrar of Voters of San Diego County.

     6.  According to the 2000 Census, San Diego County had a total population of 2,813,833 persons, of whom 750,965 (26.7%) were Hispanic persons and of whom 121,147 (4.3%)were of Filipino heritage; and a total citizen voting-age population of 2,093,080 persons, of whom 476,655(22.7%) were Hispanic persons and of whom 103,325(4.9%) were of Filipino heritage.

     7.  According to the 2000 Census, 65,520(23%) of Hispanic voting-age citizens and 17,155(22%) of Filipino voting age citizens in San Diego County had limited English proficiency.

     8.  San Diego County is subject to the requirements of Section 203 for the Spanish and Filipino (Tagalog) languages, as designated by the Director of the Census. The Director determined, based on the 2000 Census, that more than 10,000 of San Diego County's voting-age citizens are members of a single language minority group (Spanish heritage and Filipino, respectively) who do not speak or understand English well enough to participate in the English-language election process and have an illiteracy rate that is higher than the national illiteracy rate. 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a(b)(2). The determination of the Census Bureau that San Diego County is covered by Section 203 for Spanish and Tagalog is final and non-reviewable. 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a(b)(4).

     9.  San Diego County has been continuously required under Section 203 to provide bilingual elections in Spanish since September 18, 1992, 57 Fed. Reg. 43213; and to those of Filipino heritage since July 26, 2002, 67 Fed. Reg. 48871. In San Diego, the dominant Filipino language is Tagalog.

     10.  The Department of Justice has directly notified election officials, including Defendant McPherson, in all jurisdictions covered under Section 203 and has provided information regarding the requirements of Section 203.

     11.  Because San Diego County is subject to the requirements of Section 203, "any registration or voting notice, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots" that Defendants provide in English must also be furnished in Spanish and Tagalog. 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a.

     12.  Defendants have not provided effective election-related materials, information, and/or assistance in Spanish or Tagalog to limited English proficient Hispanic and Filipino citizens as required by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, including, but not limited to, the following:

          a. failing to make available in Spanish and Tagalog an audible version of the ballot for the March 2, 2004 federal primary election such as was made available in English for voters unable to read the ballot;
           b.  failing to provide an adequate pool of bilingual poll officials capable of providing Hispanic and Filipino citizens with effective language assistance at certain polling places where such assistance was necessary;

           c.  failing to make available in Spanish and Tagalog certain election-related announcements, instructions, and notices at election sites;

           d.  failing to translate into Spanish and Tagalog certain election-related information, including but not limited to information contained in legal notices publicizing elections and materials available to the general public on the Internet website of the Registrar of Voters.

     13.  Defendants' failure to provide Spanish-language and Tagalog-language election information and assistance constitutes a violation of Section 203.

     14.  Unless enjoined by this Court, Defendants will continue to fail to comply with Section 203 in future elections by failing to provide limited English proficient Hispanic and Filipino citizens of San Diego County with Spanish-language and Tagalog-language election information and assistance necessary for their effective political participation.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff the United States of America prays that this Court enter an order:

     (1) Declaring that Defendants have failed to provide certain election information and assistance necessary to those who require it in Spanish or Tagalog in violation of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a;

     (2) Enjoining Defendants, their employees, agents, and successors in office, and all persons acting in concert with them, from failing to provide Spanish-language and Tagalog-language election information and assistance to persons with limited English proficiency as required by Section 203, 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a;

     (3)  Requiring Defendants to devise and implement a remedial plan to ensure that Spanish-speaking and Tagalog-speaking citizens are able to participate in all phases of the electoral process as required by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a;

     (4) Authorizing the appointment of Federal examiners for elections held in San Diego County pursuant to Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973a(a), through December 31, 2006.

Plaintiff further prays that this Court order such additional relief as the interests of justice may require, together with the costs and disbursements in maintaining this action.

Dated this _23rd___ day of June, 2004.


JOHN D. ASHCROFT
Attorney General

__/s/ R. Alexander Acosta______
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

___/s/ Carol C. Lam_____________
CAROL C. LAM
United States Attorney
TOM STAHL, CA Bar #078291
Assistant United States Attorney

___/s/ Susana Lorenzo-Giguere___
JOSEPH D. RICH
Chief, Voting Section

___/s/ Susan Lorenzo-Giguere_____
JOHN TANNER
Special Litigation Counsel
SUSANA LORENZO-GIGUERE
Trial Attorney
Voting Section
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
NWB-7254
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 514-9822

General Information Voting Section
Contact

Toll-free - (800) 253-3931
Telephone - (202) 307-2767
Fax - (202) 307-3961
Email - voting.section@usdoj.gov Complaint form
Mailing Contact

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

Redistricting Census Information
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