WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it will monitor primary elections on March 2, 2010, in Fort Bend, Galveston, Gonzales, Williamson and Wilson Counties in Texas, to ensure compliance with the minority language requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes. The Voting Rights Act requires these covered jurisdictions to provide language assistance in Spanish during the election process. In addition, jurisdictions must comply with the requirements of the Help America Vote Act during this election for federal office, including requirements regarding provisional ballots, accessible voting equipment and information provided to voters.
Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to send federal observers to jurisdictions that are certified by the Attorney General or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Fort Bend, Galveston, Williamson and Wilson Counties based on the attorney general’s certification. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Fort Bend is subject to a court order entered in 2009, which requires the jurisdiction to comply with the minority language and assistor of choice requirements of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the requirements of the Help America Vote Act. Galveston County is subject to a court order entered in 2007 that requires the jurisdiction to comply with the minority language requirements of the Voting Rights Act and the requirements of the Help America Vote Act.
Finally, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Gonzales County, Texas. A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from OPM, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country. 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.
Visit www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm for more information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws.