FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
FEDERAL OBSERVERS AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL
TO MONITOR GENERAL ELECTION IN STATES ACROSS THE NATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced that it will send 160 federal observers and 39 Civil Rights Division personnel to 15 counties in 8 states to monitor state and local elections on November 4, 2003. These activities are part of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Voting Access and Integrity Initiative.
Under the Voting Rights Act, which protects the rights of Americans to participate in the electoral process without discrimination, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to send federal observers to areas that are specially covered in the Act itself or by a federal court order under the Act.
“It is a priority of this Administration to ensure that all Americans are able to vote, free of hostility, harassment, or intimidation,” said Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta. “The observers and Civil Rights Division personnel will monitor Election Day activities to ensure access to the polls and prevent discrimination.”
For three counties, federal observer authority comes from court orders, and observers were assigned to another eight counties based on the special coverage provisions. Federal observers will monitor polling place activities in:
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at select polling locations in these counties. Twenty-one Justice Department personnel will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Civil Rights Division personnel, most of whom are attorneys, will monitor elections in:
The observers and Department personnel will monitor whether certain counties and localities are complying with federal voting laws, for example: complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; determining whether any voters are challenged improperly on the basis of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group; permitting voters who are blind, disabled or unable to read or write assistance by a person of their choice; and permitting all eligible voters to cast a ballot.
At all times, complaints about discriminatory voting practices may be called in to the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 800-253-3931. District Election Officers in 93 U.S. Attorney’s Offices will also be available in every jurisdiction conducting elections across the United States. Complaints related to ballot integrity issues may be called in to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices located in a particular state or to the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division at 202-514-1412.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice’s website site at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting <http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting>.