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R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General

DEBRA W. YANG, United States Attorney
MICHELE C. MARCHAND
Assistant United States Attorney (#93390)
United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street, 14th floor
Los Angeles, California 90012
Telephone:  (213) 894-2727
Facsimile:  (213) 894-7177

JOSEPH D. RICH, Chief
JOHN TANNER, Special Counsel
JOHN "BERT" RUSS, Trial Attorney (#192471)
Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. - NWB-7254
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone:  (202) 353-7738
Facsimile:  (202) 307-3961

Counsel for Plaintiff
United States of America



IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
WESTERN DIVISION



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,                 No. CV 04-6443 CAS VBKx

                                                                  

                                   Plaintiff,                         THREE-JUDGE COURT

                                                                  

                                   v.                                    COMPLAINT

                                                                  

VENTURA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA;     
PHIL SCHMIT, the COUNTY CLERK     
& RECORDER, in his official                  
capacity; and the VENTURA                    
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. The events relevant to this action occurred in Ventura County, which is located in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

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

      4.    Defendant PHIL SCHMIT is the County Clerk & Recorder of Ventura County. In this capacity as county clerk, Defendant Schmit has responsibilities concerning the administration of voting and elections in Ventura County. Defendant Schmit is a resident of Ventura County, and is sued in his official capacity.

      5.    Defendant Ventura COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS is the primary budgetary authority for the county and for the County Clerk & Recorder of Ventura County.

      6.    According to the 2000 Census, Ventura County had a total population of 753,195 persons, of whom 251,965 (33.5%) were Hispanic persons; and a total citizen voting-age population of 458,420 persons, of whom 96,780 (21.1%) were Hispanic persons.

      7.    According to the 2000 Census, 24,505 Hispanic voting-age citizens in Ventura County were limited English proficient ("LEP").

      8.    Ventura County is subject to the requirements of Section 203 for the Spanish language, pursuant to the designation by the Director of the Census. The Director has determined that more than 10,000 of Ventura County's voting-age citizens are members of a single language minority group (Spanish heritage or Hispanic) 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. See 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a(b)(2); see also 67 Fed. Reg. 48,871 (July 26, 2002). The determination of the Census Bureau that Ventura County is covered by Section 203 for Spanish language is final and non-reviewable. See 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a(b)(4).

      9.    Ventura County has been continuously covered under Section 203 to provide bilingual elections in Spanish since September 18, 1992. See 57 Fed. Reg. 43,213 (Sept. 18, 1992); 67 Fed. Reg. 48,871 (July 26, 2002). The Department has directly notified election officials, including Ventura County election officials, in all covered jurisdictions and has provided information regarding the requirements of Section 203.

      10.    Because Ventura County is subject to the requirements of Section 203, "any registration or voting notices, 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 to Spanish-speaking voters. 42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a(c).

CAUSE OF ACTION

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

      a.   failing to recruit, appoint, train, and maintain an adequate pool of bilingual poll officials capable of providing Hispanic citizens with limited English proficiency language assistance;

      b.   failing to translate into Spanish the official ballot, and all election-related announcements, instructions, and notices at election sites;

       c.   failing to translate into Spanish all 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 Elections Division of the County Clerk & Recorder's office.

      12.    Defendants' failure to provide Spanish-speaking citizens of Ventura County with Spanish-language election information and assistance, as described above, constitutes a violation of Section 203.

      13.    Unless enjoined by this Court, Defendants will continue to violate Section 203 by failing to provide Spanish-speaking citizens of Ventura County with Spanish-language election information and assistance necessary for their 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 election information and assistance necessary to those who require it in Spanish 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 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 citizens with limited English proficiency 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. Requiring the Defendants to publicize the remedial plans and programs addressing violations of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act to ensure their widespread dissemination to Ventura County's voters; and

  5. Authorizing the appointment of federal examiners for elections held in Ventura County pursuant to Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973a(a), through August 1, 2007.

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.



Date: 4th_ day of _August_, 2004

JOHN D. ASHCROFT
Attorney General

____/s/________________________
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

____/s/________________________
DEBRA W. YANG
United States Attorney

____/s/________________________
JOSEPH D. RICH
Chief, Voting Section

____/s/________________________
JOHN TANNER
Special Litigation Counsel
JOHN "BERT" RUSS
Trial Attorney, Voting Section
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW - NWB-7254
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 353-7738

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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