WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that it will monitor the primary election in Boston on Sept. 16, 2008, to ensure compliance with federal voting rights statutes, particularly the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
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 by the law or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities for the election in Boston under a federal court order entered in 2005. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in the city. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
The city of Boston has an obligation to provide all election information, ballots and voting assistance information in Spanish pursuant to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Under a memorandum of agreement and settlement entered into with the United States, Boston also must provide such information and assistance in Chinese and Vietnamese. The observers and monitors will gather information concerning compliance.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as Department staff, to monitor elections across the country. Thus far, during calendar year 2008 (not including today’s monitoring efforts), 392 federal observers and 157 Department personnel have been sent to monitor 50 elections in 46 jurisdictions in 17 states. For the 2008 elections, the Civil Rights Division will implement a comprehensive Election Day program to help ensure ballot access. As in previous years, the Civil Rights Division will coordinate the deployment of hundreds of federal government employees in counties, cities and towns across the country to ensure access to the polls as required by our nation’s civil rights laws.
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.