FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUITS AGAINST THREE CALIFORNIA CITIES AND ENTERS CONSENT DECREES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced that late yesterday it filed three separate lawsuits against the cities of Azusa, Paramount, and Rosemead, California, alleging violations of the rights of minority-language voters under the Voting Rights Act. The Department simultaneously filed consent decrees resolving the lawsuits against the cities.
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act requires that jurisdictions with a substantial minority-language voter population must provide all voting materials - including ballots, registration and voting notices, forms, instructions and other materials - in the minority language as well as in English. With respect to Azusa and Paramount, those cities are currently required to provide the translated materials to Spanish-speaking voters. In the case of Rosemead, the city is currently obligated to provide the materials to Spanish, Chinese- and Vietnamese-speaking voters. The complaints, which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleged that each of the three cities failed to meet their legal responsibilities under section 203.
The consent decrees with the Cities of Azusa, Paramount, and Rosemead, which still must be approved by a panel of three judges, require the cities to implement procedures that will ensure compliance with federal law and permit the Justice Department to monitor future elections.
Bradley J. Schlozman, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, praised city officials in Azusa, Paramount, and Rosemead for their cooperation and determination to address past problems. "By quickly agreeing to implement an extensive and effective remedial plan, these city officials have demonstrated a real commitment to addressing past problems and protecting the voting rights of their minority language citizen voters," said Schlozman.
The Civil Rights Division has launched a major initiative to ensure compliance by each jurisdiction covered under the minority-language provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Since 2002, the Division has brought as many lawsuits to enforce the minority-language provisions of the Act as it had brought in the preceding 20 years combined.
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931. More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm <http://www.usdoj.gov>