WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that on April 24, 2007, it will monitor the special election in Osceola County, Fla., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Osceola County, and a Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
The county is holding a special general election for two county commission seats under a new single-member district election system ordered by the federal court after the Department of Justice successfully challenged Osceola County’s at-large election system under the Voting Rights Act last year. One of the two districts on the ballot is majority Hispanic District 2, adopted to remedy the violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Osceola County has an obligation to provide all election information, ballots and voting assistance information in Spanish as well as in English pursuant to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act and agreements between the county and the Department. In 2002, the Department of Justice entered into a consent decree under the Voting Rights Act with Osceola County to provide election information and assistance at the polls in Spanish, and in 2005, the county signed a letter agreement to continue its compliance program. The Department has monitored elections since 2002 pursuant to those agreements and will have monitors present at Tuesday’s election to gather information concerning compliance with the county’s obligations to provide effective minority-language assistance to voters and other Election Day activities.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country. During calendar year 2004, a record 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel were sent to monitor 163 elections in 106 jurisdictions in 29 states. This compares to the 640 federal observers and 110 Department personnel deployed during the entire 2000 presidential calendar year. In 2006, another record was set for the mid-term elections with more than 800 federal observers and Department personnel sent to monitor polling places in 69 jurisdictions in 22 states on Election Day. The Department’s election monitoring program also has been very active in non-federal election years. In calendar year 2005, for example, 640 federal observers and 191 Department personnel were sent to monitor 47 elections in 36 jurisdictions in 14 states.
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s 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 Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.