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RENA J. COMISAC
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
GEORGE S. CARDONA
United States Attorney
MICHELE C. MARCHAND
Assistant United State Attorney (#93390)
JOHN K. TANNER
Special Litigation Counsel
VERONICA SEUNGWON JUNG
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. - NWB-7201
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone: (202) 307-3961
Facsimile: (202) 305-1291
Attorneys for Plaintiff
United States of America
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
No. CV 07-2437-PA/SJO/MMS (VBKx)
CITY OF WALNUT, CALIFORNIA; THE
AGREEMENT AND ORDER
WALNUT CITY COUNCIL, THE OFFICE OF
THE WALNUT CITY MANAGER; TERESA
DE DIOS, in her official capacity as Walnut
The United States of America filed this action pursuant to
Sections 203 and 204 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973aa-1a and
1973aa-2, and 28 U.S.C. § 2201 arising from the City of Walnut's election practices
In accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-2
and 28 U.S.C. § 2284, the United States' claim brought under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act
of 1965, as amended ("Section 203"), must be heard and determined by a court of three judges.
According to the 2000 Census, the City of Walnut had a total population of
30,004, of whom 8,853 (29.5%) were Chinese and 1,916 (6.4%) were Korean. The
Census reported that the City had a total voting age population of 21,723, of whom
6,212 (28.6%) were Chinese and 1,369 (6.3%) were Korean. Of the Chinese voting
age residents, 4,056 (65.3%) were limited-English proficient, and of the Korean
voting age residents, 853 (62.3%) were limited-English proficient. The Census also
reported that the total citizen voting age population of Walnut was 16,922, of whom
3,707 (21.9%) were Chinese and 916 (5.4%) were Korean.
The Census Bureau has designated the County of Los Angeles as
subject to the requirements of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act for Chinese, Filipino,
Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. See 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a(b)(2); see also 67 Fed. Reg. 48,871 (July 26, 2002). As a political subdivision within the
County of Los Angeles, the City of Walnut agrees that it is also subject to the requirements
of Section 203 for these languages. See 28 C.F.R. § 55.9. As a
political subdivision of Los Angeles County, the City of Walnut agrees that it has
been continuously subject to Section 203's requirements to provide election
materials and information in Chinese since September 18, 1992 and in Korean since
July 26, 2002. See 57 Fed. Reg. 43,213 (Sept. 18, 1992); 67 Fed. Reg. 48,871 (July
26, 2002). The parties agree that there are Chinese-speaking citizens with limited
English proficiency ("Chinese-speaking citizens") who may need assistance in the
election process in the Chinese language and who reside in the City of Walnut.
Similarly, the parties agree that there are Korean-speaking citizens with limited
English proficiency ("Korean-speaking citizens") who may need assistance in the
election process in the Korean language and who reside in the City of Walnut.
The City of Walnut conducts its own municipal elections, while
the County of Los Angeles conducts county, state, and federal elections in which voters in the
City also vote. The allegations in the Complaint and the terms of this Agreement and Order
(hereinafter, "Agreement") apply to the City's municipal elections, and any other elections
which the City has authority to conduct.
The Complaint alleges that Defendants (hereinafter, "City
of Walnut" or "City") have not complied with the requirements of Section 203 by failing to
translate written election materials and information into Chinese and Korean, including,
but not limited to, information about voter registration, polling place
locations, dates of elections, and other election related information; by failing to
provide effective assistance in Chinese and Korean to limited-English proficient
voters; and by failing to provide certain election related information, including but
not limited to information publicizing elections and voter registration information,
in a manner that provides limited-English proficient Chinese and Korean citizens an
equal and effective opportunity to be informed about election related activities. The
City contends that it has complied fully with applicable laws.
In the interest of securing the rights of voters, the
parties have agreed that this lawsuit - and the Counterclaim that the City of Walnut
filed against the United States - should be resolved through the terms of this Agreement.
Accordingly, the United States and the City of Walnut hereby consent to the entry of
this Agreement, as indicated by the signatures of counsel at the end of this document.
The parties waive a hearing and entry of findings of fact and conclusions of law on all
issues involved in this matter.
The City of Walnut is committed to complying fully with
the requirements of Section 203 in future elections and stipulates that each provision
of this Agreement is appropriate in securing the rights of voters.
Accordingly, it is hereby AGREED AND ORDERED that:
1. The City of Walnut, its agents, employees,
contractors, successors and all other persons representing the interests of the City
shall hereby also provide in Chinese and Korean any "registration or voting notices,
forms, instructions, assistance or other materials or information relating to the
electoral process" that it provides in English, as required by Section 203 of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended. 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a(c). The terms of
this Agreement apply to all municipal elections in the City of Walnut and any other
elections over which the City has authority to conduct. Whenever the City of Walnut
enters into an election services contract with another entity - whether it be a
political subdivision or some other public or private entity - to conduct an election
on behalf of the City, the City of Walnut shall require such other entity to agree to
abide by the terms of this Agreement as if such entity were a party to this Agreement
with the United States.
Translation of Election Related Materials
2. All information that is disseminated
by the City of Walnut in English regarding "registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including
ballots," 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a(c), shall also be provided in at least Chinese and Korean.
The City of Walnut shall ensure that English, Chinese and Korean language election
information, materials, and announcements provided by the City of Walnut are made
equally available to voters, along with any other required languages.
3. The City shall consult with trained
translators who are familiar with Chinese and Korean language election terminology to
produce clear and accurate written translations of English language election information.
The City shall consult in a timely manner with the Advisory Groups, discussed below,
regarding the translation of any written and audio-recorded materials. The City
shall also develop and maintain a glossary of Chinese and Korean election terminology.
The City may satisfy this obligation by using terminology provided by the Los Angeles County
Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk or the Elections Division of the office of the
Secretary of State of California.
4. The City shall translate the names
of each of the candidates running for office into Chinese and Korean on the official ballot,
the sample ballot, and any other election material that the City provides that contains
such names in English. The City shall consult with the Advisory Groups, discussed below,
when creating such translations.
5. The City shall adopt a checklist
identifying each written item that is provided in at least Chinese and Korean and
that the City makes available to the public at each precinct. The checklist shall
include with respect to each item an attestation that the poll workers at the precinct
posted or made available to voters these materials in Chinese and Korean, or a detailed
written explanation of why individual items had not been posted or were not available.
The inspector for each precinct must complete and sign this document before he/she
receives payment for work in the election, subject to applicable state and federal law.
The City shall maintain a record of any such failure to complete and sign the checklist.
Dissemination of Minority Language Information
6. The City shall ensure that all
Chinese, Korean and English language election related information, materials, and
announcements issued by the City are made equally available. Chinese and Korean
language information shall be distributed through newspapers, radio and/or other
media that exclusively or regularly publish or broadcast information in the relevant
minority language to the local population. Dissemination of these minority language
announcements shall be in the form, frequency, and media best calculated to achieve
notice and understanding equal to that provided to the English-speaking population and to
provide substantially the same information.
7. Any voting system used by the City
shall be multilingual, as described below. If the City uses electronic voting machines,
such machines shall offer the readily apparent option of using at least an English,
Korean, and Chinese ballot, and any audio version of the ballot on such machines shall
be available at least in English, Korean, and Chinese. Any paper ballots used by the City,
including all official ballots, absentee ballots, and provisional ballots, shall be printed
in, at least, English, Korean, and Chinese. If it is not mechanically feasible to have at
least English, Chinese, and Korean on one ballot, subject to the provisions of the next
Paragraph of this Agreement, all paper ballots shall at least be bilingual. With
respect to paper ballots, the principal bilingual ballot shall be in English and the
predominant minority language in the City (e.g., currently Chinese), and the City
shall also provide separate bilingual ballots in each of the other covered minority
languages where there is a need among voters in the City (e.g., Korean).
8. If the City elects to have a bilingual
ballot in English and the predominant minority language, and separate bilingual ballots
in the other covered minority languages, the ballots shall be clearly labeled so that
poll workers can know the languages represented on the ballot. The City shall ensure
that all ballots are made visible and available on an equal basis with the principal ballots,
and designated poll workers shall let each voter know the language choices of ballots
9. To the extent the City posts instructions
on casting a ballot or other election related information inside the voting booth, the
City shall also provide and post that same information in at least Chinese and Korean.
10. Sample ballots and other written
election related materials mailed to voters shall be provided in at least Chinese and
Korean to at least those voters who have requested or may request materials be mailed
to them in the relevant minority language. The translated materials mailed to voters
must include all of the information provided in the English language materials, and the
minority language materials must be mailed out at the same time as the English language materials.
11. Nothing in this Agreement prevents
the City from adopting a multilingual sample ballot booklet that provides all information
in the City's covered languages.
Minority Language Assistance
12. The City shall provide, during
normal business hours, trained bilingual personnel who speak Chinese and Korean for
citizens who contact the City by telephone three weeks before, during, and three weeks
after an election with questions regarding the election process. The City may coordinate
the provision of such services with other governmental or non-governmental entities
that conduct elections.
13. The City shall recruit, hire, and
assign bilingual poll workers, who are able to understand, speak, read, and write Chinese
and English fluently and Korean and English fluently, to provide assistance to limited-English
proficient Chinese-speaking and Korean-speaking voters at the polls on election days.
14. In determining the threshold for
assigning bilingual poll workers in Walnut's municipal elections, the following factors
are relevant: the historically lower voter turn-out rate for municipal elections in Walnut
as compared to County-wide elections, the need for Walnut to serve multiple minority
language groups, the extent to which Asian surname analyses of registered voters
(using the Lauderdale and Kestenbaum lists of Asian surnames) undercount the true
number of voters in a particular community, and the higher number of Chinese-surnamed
registered voters than Korean-surnamed registered voters in Walnut. In light of these
factors, the City and any entity conducting elections on its behalf, in addition to
satisfying all requirements of California state law and the recommended guidelines provided
by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, shall meet the following
standards for assigning bilingual workers in Walnut's municipal elections:
- The City shall provide at least one Chinese-speaking poll worker
for each consolidated precinct that has 35 to 249 Chinese-surnamed voters; and
- The City shall provide at least two Chinese-speaking poll
workers for each consolidated precinct that has 250 or more Chinese-surnamed voters.
- The City shall provide at least one Korean-speaking poll worker for each
consolidated precinct that has 35 or more Korean-surnamed voters.
- The parties may by written agreement adjust this requirement in light of
confirmed information that the actual language need in a particular precinct is less
or greater than this standard.
- The Chinese-speaking poll workers shall speak the relevant dialect for their
assigned precinct, to be determined in consultation with the Advisory Group (discussed below).
In addition, after each election, the City shall require each Chinese-speaking poll worker
to fill out a survey indicating which Chinese dialects were most commonly spoken by
Chinese-speaking voters at the precinct where he/she worked. The City shall use the
information from such surveys to help determine which dialect future Chinese-speaking
poll workers assigned to the precinct should speak.
15. To avoid last-minute gaps in Chinese
and Korean language coverage at the polls on election day due to bilingual poll workers
who fail to report to the polling place, the City shall employ bilingual personnel trained
in Chinese and Korean election terminology who shall be on call and available to travel to
a polling place not staffed by a bilingual poll worker to provide any necessary assistance to
a limited-English proficient Chinese-speaking or Korean-speaking voter.
16.The City shall post signs prominently in English,
Chinese, and Korean stating that minority language assistance is available. Bilingual
personnel shall be identified as such by wearing bilingual badges.
Assistance in Other Minority Languages
17. As a political unit within the
County of Los Angeles, the City contends that it has adequately provided election
materials in English, Spanish, and Tagalog. In order to ensure future compliance
with Section 203, the City shall develop plans to provide election materials and
assistance to such other language groups as the need for such language assistance
arises. Any language assistance and materials provided to these additional minority
language groups shall be provided in a manner that is consistent with the requirements
of this Agreement.
Poll Worker Training
18.Prior to each election, the City shall train all
poll workers and other election personnel present at the polls on the following
topics: (1) the provisions of Section 203, including the legal obligation to make
language assistance and materials available to minority language voters and to be
respectful and courteous to all voters regardless of race, color, language abilities,
or national origin; and (2) the requirements of Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act,
42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-6, regarding the rights of limited-English proficient voters
to the assistor of their choice. The City shall also train Chinese-speaking and
Korean-speaking poll workers on election terminology in the relevant minority
language and how to interpret the ballot, voting instructions, and other election
related information. The City shall maintain a record of which poll workers attend
training sessions, including the time, location, and training personnel involved.
Response to Complaints about Poll Workers
19. Upon receipt of complaints, whether
oral or written, the City shall investigate expeditiously any allegations of poll worker
hostility toward minority language voters or poll workers in any election. The City
shall report the results of each investigation to the United States in writing within
thirty days of receiving the complaint. Where there is credible evidence that a poll
worker has engaged in inappropriate treatment of minority language voters or poll workers,
the City shall remove the poll worker.
20. The City shall retain or designate
a Program Coordinator to coordinate the City's Chinese language election program and
a Program Coordinator to coordinate the City's Korean language election program. The
Program Coordinator(s) shall be able to understand, speak, write, and read fluently both in
English and in the language of the minority language group for which he/she is
coordinating election related assistance and materials. The City may retain or
designate one Program Coordinator for both the Chinese language election program
and the Korean language election program provided that such person can understand,
speak, write, and read fluently in English, Chinese, and Korean. For Chinese, the
Program Coordinator shall be able to speak the appropriate dialect(s).
21. The Program Coordinator(s) shall
work under the supervision of the City Clerk and their responsibilities shall include
coordinating and reviewing the translation of ballots and other election information;
developing and overseeing publicity in the minority language, including selecting
appropriate minority language media for notices and announcements; recruiting bilingual
poll workers; and assessing the language proficiency of poll workers.
22. The City shall form a Korean
Language Advisory Group and a Chinese Language Advisory Group to provide the City
with information and assistance regarding how best to provide election related
materials and assistance to the Chinese-speaking and Korean-speaking communities.
The Advisory Groups shall be established and chaired by the Program Coordinator
who is assigned to the same minority language group. The Program Coordinator(s)
shall invite participation from interested individuals and organizations who work
with or serve the relevant minority language community to determine how most
effectively to provide election materials, information, and assistance to minority
language voters. The Program Coordinator(s) shall provide notice of all planned
meetings to each member, including the date, time, location, and meeting agenda
at least 14 days in advance, although members of the Advisory Groups may agree to
waive or shorten this time period as necessary. The Groups shall meet at least once
per month beginning six months before every election and continuing until one
month after the election.
23. Within five days after each meeting,
the Program Coordinator(s) shall provide a written summary of the discussion and any
decisions reached at the meeting to all Advisory Group members and to the City Clerk.
If the City Clerk decides not to implement an Advisory Group's suggestion or a
consensus cannot be reached respecting such suggestion, the City Clerk shall provide
to the Advisory Group through the Program Coordinator, and maintain on file, a written
statement of the reasons for rejecting such suggestion.
24. The City Clerk shall transmit to
all interested members of the Advisory Group copies, in English and the relevant
minority language, of all election information, announcements, and notices that are
provided or made available to the electorate and general public and request that
they share such information with others.
Evaluation of the Program
25. The parties recognize that
regular and ongoing reassessment may be necessary in order to provide the most
effective and efficient minority language program. The City Clerk and the City
Manager shall evaluate the minority language election program after each election
cycle to determine which aspects of the program are functioning well, whether any
aspects need improvement, and how to make any needed improvements. The program
may be adjusted at any time upon written agreement of the parties.
26. The appointment of federal
observers is authorized for the City of Walnut, and the City agrees that, pursuant
to Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973a(a), federal
observers shall be permitted to observe all aspects of voting conducted in the
polls on election day, including the authority to view City poll workers providing
assistance to voters during voting, except where the voter objects. In the event
of full compliance with this Agreement for any election, the United States may
reduce or adjust the assignment of federal observers, as appropriate.
Retention of Documents and Reporting Requirements
27. Throughout the duration of
this Agreement, the City shall make and maintain written records of all actions
taken pursuant to this Agreement. Such documents, lists, and records shall be
made available, upon reasonable notice, to the United States for inspection and copying.
28. Throughout the duration of
this Agreement, at least twenty-one (21) days before each City-administered election,
the City Clerk shall provide to the United States, via facsimile or e-mail, the
following information: (a) the name, address, and precinct designation of each polling
place; (b) the name and title of each poll worker appointed and assigned to serve at
each precinct; (c) a designation of whether each poll worker is fluent in English and
a foreign language, and an indication of what foreign languages are spoken by each poll
worker; and (d) copies of any signs or other written information provided at polling places.
Within thirty (30) days after each such election, the City of Walnut shall provide to
counsel for the United States a report that includes any changes in these items as well as
information about all complaints the City received at the election regarding language
or assistance issues.
29. The Court shall retain jurisdiction
of this case to enter further relief or such other orders as may be necessary for the
effectuation of the terms of this agreement and to ensure compliance with Section 203.
30. This Agreement is final and binding
between the parties and their successors in office regarding the claims raised in this
action and the claims raised in the City's Counterclaim. This Agreement shall remain
in effect through December 31, 2010.
AGREED AND CONSENTED TO:
Dated:____September 20______, 2007.
RENA J. COMISAC
Acting Assistant Attorney General
2627 Mission Street, Suite 1
San Marino, CA 91108
GEORGE S. CARDONA
United States Attorney
MICHELE C. MARCHAND
Assistant United States Attorney
JOHN K. TANNER
Special Litigation Counsel
VERONICA SEUNGWON JUNG
Civil Rights Division - NWB
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave.,N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
This three-judge Court, having been properly empaneled under 28 U.S.C. §
2284 and 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-2 to consider the United States' claim under Section
203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a, and
Defendants' Counterclaim under the Act, and having determined that it has
jurisdiction over these claims, has considered the terms of the Agreement and
[proposed] Order, and hereby enters and incorporates herein the relief set forth
above in this Order.
Hon. Mary M. Schroeder
United States Circuit Judge
Hon. Percy Anderson
United States District Judge
Hon. S. James Otero
United States District Judge