WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that on Tuesday, July 15, 2008, it will monitor elections in the Georgia counties of Coffee, Dougherty and Long to ensure compliance with federal voting rights statutes.
In 2006, the Justice Department and Long County settled a lawsuit regarding violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, charged the county with abridging the rights of Hispanic voters. The county allegedly required numerous challenged Hispanic voters to prove their eligibility, even though the county was aware that the challenges were not supported by any evidence. The complaint further alleged that the county imposed separate and distinct procedures for challenged Hispanic voters than for challenged non-Hispanic voters.
The consent decree, which was approved by the federal court in 2006, requires the county to adopt practices that will ensure future compliance with and remedy past violations of federal law. Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Long County during the upcoming election.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Coffee and Dougherty Counties. Civil Rights Division attorneys 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.
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.