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WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division PAUL K. CHARLTON
United States Attorney JOHN K. TANNER
GAYE L. TENOSO (DC Bar No. 394539
Special Litigation Counsel
ALBERTO RUISANCHEZ (MD Bar)
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. - NWB Ste. 7201
Washington, D.C. 20530
Fax: (202) 307-3961
Tel.: (202) 305-1291 Counsel for Plaintiff
United States of America
Plaintiff, THREE-JUDGE COURT
COCHISE COUNTY, ARIZONA; COMPLAINT
COCHISE COUNTY BOARD OF
SUPERVISORS; CHRISTINE RHODES,
in her official capacity as Cochise County
Recorder; THOMAS SCHELLING, in his
official capacity as Cochise County
Elections and Special Districts Director,
Plaintiff United States of American alleges:
- The Attorney General files 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; Sections 302 and 401 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 ("HAVA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 15482 and 15511; and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345; 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-2; 42 U.S.C. § 15511 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201. 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. The United States’ claim brought under HAVA may be heard and determined by one judge.
- Venue is proper in this court as the events relevant to this action occurred in Cochise County, which is located within the territory of the Tucson Division of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.
- Defendant COCHISE COUNTY is a political and geographical subdivision of the State of Arizona.
- Defendant COCHISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS is the County's legislative body and is responsible for establishing county policies and the overall administration of the Cochise County government, including but not limited to the funding of the offices of the Recorder and the Elections and Special Districts Division, their personnel, and their supplies.
- Defendant CHRISTINE RHODES serves as Cochise County Recorder. As Cochise County Recorder, she is responsible for the administration of voter registration, early and absentee voting, and other aspects of elections and voting procedures in Cochise County. Defendant RHODES is sued in her official capacity.
- Defendant THOMAS SCHELLING serves as the Director of Cochise County's Elections and Special Districts Division. As Cochise County Elections and Special Districts Director, he is responsible for the administration of election day activities, including the hiring, assignment and training of poll workers, as well as other aspects of elections and voting procedures in Cochise County. Defendant SCHELLING is sued in his official capacity. li type=1>According to the 2000 Census, Cochise County has a total population of 117,755, of whom 36,195 (30.7%) are Hispanic. Cochise County's total citizen voting age population is 80,670, of whom 18,095 (22.4%) are Hispanic. Of Hispanic voting age citizens in Cochise County, 4,325 (23.9%) are limited-English proficient.
- The Census Bureau has designated Defendant Cochise County as subject to the bilingual election requirements of Section 203 for Hispanics. 67 Fed. Reg. 48871 (July 26, 2002). The determination that Cochise County is covered by Section 203 for Hispanics is final and is not subject to judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a(b)(4).
- Since July 26, 2002, Cochise County has been required, pursuant to Section 203, to provide effective language assistance to limited-English proficient Hispanic voters, see 67 Fed. Reg. 48871 (July 26, 2002), and previously was so required from September 9, 1975 until September 18, 1992, see 40 Fed. Reg. 41827 (Sept. 9, 1975); 49 Fed. Reg. 25887 (June 25, 1984); 57 Fed. Reg. 43213 (Sept. 18, 1992).
- Because Cochise 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. 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a(c).
- Defendant Cochise County has been subject to the requirements of Section 302 of HAVA since January 1, 2004.
- Pursuant to Section 302 of HAVA, Cochise County is required, inter alia, to post certain election-related information in polling sites during elections for federal office. See 42 U.S.C. § 15482(b).
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
- Defendants have failed to provide complete and accurate Spanish translations of all election-related materials produced in English, including, but not limited to, information about voter registration, voting absentee, voting early, voting machine instructions, and other election-related information.
- Defendants have failed to provide effective election-related information and assistance in Spanish to limited-English proficient Hispanic voters by failing to recruit, appoint, train, and assign sufficient bilingual poll officials on election day to provide such assistance.
- Defendants have failed to provide certain election-related information, including but not limited to information publicizing elections, registration deadlines, and early and absentee voting options, in a manner that provides limited-English proficient Hispanic citizens an equal and effective opportunity to be informed about election-related activities.
- Defendants' failure to provide effective Spanish-language election information and assistance constitutes a violation of Section 203.
- Unless enjoined by this Court, Defendants will continue to violate Section 203 by failing to provide limited-English proficient Hispanic citizens of Cochise County with Spanish-language election information and assistance necessary for their effective political participation. p align=center>SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
- In the September 7, 2004 primary election and the November 2, 2004 general election, Defendants failed to post in each polling place all of the voting information required by HAVA, including but not limited to information regarding the date of the election, federal and state voting laws, and first-time voters who registered by mail.
- The September 7, 2004 primary election and the November 2, 2004 general election were elections for federal office.
- Defendants' actions as described above in Paragraph 19 constitute a violation of Section 302 of HAVA, 42 U.S.C. § 15482.
- Unless enjoined by this Court, Defendants will continue to violate Section 302 of HAVA by failing to provide to voters the information required under this provision.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays that this Court enter an order:
- Declaring that Defendants have failed to provide Spanish-language election information and assistance necessary to those who require it in violation of Section 203;
- Declaring that Defendants failed to post necessary voter information materials at each polling place during elections for federal office, as required by Section 302 of HAVA;
- 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 and from violating the provisions of HAVA;
- Ordering Defendants to devise and implement a remedial plan to ensure that limited-English proficient Hispanic citizens are able to participate in all phases of the electoral process as required by Section 203 for all future elections;
- Authorizing the appointment of federal examiners in Cochise County pursuant to Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973a(a); and
- Ordering Defendants to comply with HAVA’s requirements regarding the posting of information at polling places during elections for federal office.
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: _June 16__ , 2006.
ALBERTO R. GONZALEZ
WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General
PAUL K. CHARLTON
United States Attorney
GERALD S. FRANK
Assistant United States Attorney
JOHN K. TANNER
GAYE L. TENOSO
Special Litigation Counsel
Civil Rights Division -NWB
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave.,N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530