FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
MONDAY, MAY 3, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO MONITOR ELECTIONS IN MISSISSIPPI AND INDIANA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced that it will send federal observers to Monroe County, Mississippi and Civil Rights Division personnel to Lake County, Indiana to monitor upcoming elections.
The federal observers will monitor the May 4th general election in the city of Aberdeen in Monroe County, Mississippi and Justice Department personnel will monitor the primary election in East Chicago in Lake County, Indiana also on May 4th.
Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Aberdeen based on the special coverage provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Monroe County was originally certified for federal examiners by the Attorney General on September 16, 1991. Federal observers were last assigned to the county pursuant to this authority on April 20, 2004. Under the Voting Rights Act, which protects the rights of Americans to participate in the electoral process without discrimination, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to send federal observers to areas that are specially covered in the Act itself or by a federal court order under the Act.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at select polling locations in the city. Civil Rights Division personnel will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In East Chicago, Civil Rights Division personnel will monitor polling place activities for compliance with language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The monitoring is part of an ongoing effort by the Civil Rights Division to protect the rights of language minority citizens.
Each year, the Department of Justice deploys hundreds of observers and attorneys to monitor elections across the country. In 2002, as part of the Attorney Generalís Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative, the Division coordinated and sent 608 federal observers and 221 Justice Department personnel to 40 counties in 17 states to monitor 60 elections and ensure access to the polls. In 2003, the Division coordinated and sent 380 federal observers and 126 Department personnel to monitor 41 elections in 26 political subdivisions in 14 states.
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices in this election, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the federal examiner at 1-888-496-9455.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at <http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm>.