WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that its Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 400 federal observers and department personnel to 30 jurisdictions in 18 states for the Nov. 2, 2010, general election.
Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, under the federal voting rights laws, the Civil Rights Division is charged with and committed to protecting the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day.
In the days leading up to and throughout Election Day, Civil Rights Division staff members will be available at a special toll-free number to receive complaints related to ballot access (1-800-253-3931) (TTY line 1-877-267-8971), including allegations of voter intimidation or coercion targeted at voters because of their race, color, national origin or religion. In addition, individuals may also report complaints, problems or concerns related to voting via the Internet. Forms may be submitted through a link on the department web page: www.justice.gov/ .
Allegations of voter fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Complaints may be directed to any of the local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the local FBI offices or the Public Integrity Section at 202-514-1412.
Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1 965, the department has regularly sent observers and monitors around the country to protect voters ’ rights. The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group. In addition, the act requires certain covered jurisdictions to provide language assistance during the election process. Under the Voting Rights Act, the department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to areas that have been certified for coverage by a federal court or the Attorney General. The department also may send monitors from its own staff to elections in other jurisdictions.
On Election Day, federal observers will monitor polling place activities in 16 jurisdictions:
Justice Department personnel will monitor the election in an additional 14 jurisdictions:
The observers and department personnel will gather information on whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group; whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability, or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions allow voters with disabilit ies to cast a private and independent ballot; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act. To assist in these inquiries, the department has deployed observers and monitors who speak Spanish and a variety of Asian and Native American languages. Both the federal observers and department personnel will coordinate monitoring activities, and department attorneys maintain contact with local election officials.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting and election-related laws is available on the Civil Rights Division ’s web site at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting .