WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, it will monitor elections in Kane County, Ill.; Fitchburg, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, and Worcester, Mass.; Penns Grove, N.J.; and Westchester County, N.Y., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting rights statutes.
Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to areas that are specially covered in the Act itself or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities for the presidential primary elections in Kane County, Ill., and Westchester County, N.Y., pursuant to federal court orders entered in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Kane County, Ill., and Westchester County, N.Y., are obligated 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. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in six cities in Massachusetts and one borough in New Jersey. A Civil Rights Division attorney in each state will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
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. In calendar year 2006, for example, 966 federal observers and 575 Department personnel were sent to monitor 119 elections in 81 jurisdictions in 24 states. The Departmentís election monitoring program also has been very active in non-federal election years. In calendar year 2007, for example, 525 federal observers and 167 Department personnel were sent to monitor 52 elections in 39 jurisdictions in 13 states. 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 web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.