In The United States District Court District Of Massachusetts Western Division


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;                      )
                                                                             )            CIVIL ACTION No.   06-30123-MAP
                                                                             )
                      Plaintiff,                                         )
                                                                             )
                     v.                                                     )            [PROPOSED] TEMPORARY
                                                                             )            RESTRAINING ORDER
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS; )
et al.                                                                     )
                                                                             )
                      Defendants.                                    )
______________________________________)
        For good cause shown, the Court hereby GRANTS the United States' motion for a temporary restraining order, to enjoin Defendants from violating Sections 203 and 208 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973aa-1a and 1973aa-6, in the upcoming September 19, 2006 primary election.         The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1345, 42 U.S.C. § 1973j(d) & (f), and 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-2. The Complaint's first cause of action under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a, must be heard and determined by a court of three judges pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-2 and 28 U.S.C. § 2284, although a single judge can issue a temporary restraining order. See United States v. Metropolitan Dade County, 815 F. Supp. 1475, 1477 (S.D. Fla. 1993) (describing convening of three-judge panel in Section 203 case, while addressing as a single judge a request for a temporary restraining order, as permitted by 28 U.S.C. § 2284(b)(3)). The second cause of action, under Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, may be heard and determined by one judge.         The City of Springfield, Massachusetts ("Springfield" or "City") has been subject to the requirements of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act ("Section 203"), 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a, with respect to Spanish language since 1992. See 57 Fed. Reg. 43,213 (Sept. 18, 1992). Springfield is also subject to the requirements of Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-6 ("Section 208"), which provides that "[a]ny voter who requires assistance by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter's union." 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-6.         The Court finds that the United States has met the standard for the issuance of a temporary restraining order. See United States v. Metropolitan Dade County, Supp. 1475, 1478 (S.D. Fla. 1993). The United States is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that Defendants have not complied with the requirements of Section 203 for Spanish-speaking citizens residing in Springfield, by failing to provide a sufficient number of bilingual poll workers trained to assist Spanish-speaking voters on election day, in Wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and by failing to provide in an effective manner certain election-related information to Spanish-speaking voters. The Court also finds that the United States is likely to prevail on the merits of its claim that Defendants have failed to comply with Section 208, when their employees and agents prevented certain Spanish-speaking voters from receiving assistance in the voting process from persons of their choice.         Spanish-speaking voters in the City of Springfield face irreparable injury absent entry of a temporary restraining order, preliminary relief poses little hardship to Defendants, and entry of a temporary restraining order to protect the rights of Spanish-speaking voters serves the public interest.         Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that:        1.   Defendants, their agents, employees, contractors, successors, and all other persons representing the interests of the Defendants are hereby ENJOINED from (a) failing to provide in Spanish any "registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots" that they provide in English, as required by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a; and (b) failing to allow "[a]ny voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write . . . [to] be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter's union," 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-6.         Federal Observers         2.   Pursuant to Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973a(a), the Court authorizes the appointment of federal observers to monitor compliance with and ensure the effectiveness of this Order, and to protect the Fourteenth Amendment rights of the citizens of Springfield. Defendants shall recognize the authority of federal observers to observe all aspects of voting conducted in the polls on election day, including the authority to view Springfield personnel providing assistance to voters during voting, except where the voter objects.         Assignment of Bilingual Workers.         3.   Defendants shall recruit, hire, and assign election officials able to understand, speak, write, and read Spanish fluently to provide effective assistance to Spanish-speaking voters at the polls on election days.         4.   Defendants shall provide the United States with an updated voter registration list, so that its expert can complete an updated Spanish-surname analysis to determine the number of likely Hispanic registered voters in each precinct.         5.   In light of the high percentage (42.1%) of Hispanic voting age citizens who are limited in their ability to speak English, and the short time frame between the entry of this Order and the September 19 election, Defendants shall use the following formula for the September 19 election to determine the number of bilingual election officers (i.e., poll workers) needed at each precinct: Any precinct in which there are 70 or more registered voters with Spanish surnames shall be staffed by at least one bilingual election official; and the City shall make and document its best efforts to hire at least two bilingual election officials in precincts with 175-349 registered voters with Spanish-surnames and at least three bilingual election officials in precincts with 350 or more registered voters.         6.   Defendants shall employ bilingual personnel, trained in Spanish language election terminology, who shall be on call and available to travel to a precinct insufficiently staffed by bilingual poll workers to provide any necessary assistance to any Spanish-speaking voter.         7.   Signs in both English and Spanish shall be posted prominently at all polling places stating that Spanish language assistance is available. At sites without bilingual staff, signs in both English and Spanish shall be posted that explain how voters can obtain Spanish language assistance.         Election official training         8.   In order to be eligible to serve as an election officer in the September 19 primary, an individual must commit orally or in writing that he or she will (1) treat all voters equally and with respect and (2) allow voters requiring assistance to choose a person to assist, consistent with Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-6. Defendants shall maintain records to demonstrate that each election officer has made this commitment. Defendants shall also train all poll workers on the provisions of Section 203, including the legal obligation and means to make Spanish language assistance and materials available to voters.         9.   In addition to the general training for poll officials, Defendants shall train all bilingual poll officials on Spanish language election terminology, voting instructions, and other election-related issues. Defendants shall maintain a record of which poll officials attend training sessions, including the time, location, and training personnel involved.         Spanish Language Coordinator         10.   Defendants shall employ or designate an individual in its Elections Office ("the Coordinator") to coordinate a Spanish language election program, in compliance with the terms of this Order. Defendants shall provide the Coordinator with support sufficient to meet the goals of the program. The Coordinator shall be able to understand, speak, write, and read fluently both Spanish and English. The Coordinator's responsibilities shall include development of a Spanish election glossary to ensure uniform use of election terminology in Spanish; development and oversight of Spanish publicity programs, including selection of appropriate Spanish language media for notices and announcements; training, recruitment, and assessment of Spanish language proficiency of bilingual poll officials and interpreters; and managing other aspects of the bilingual election program.         Advisory Group         11.   The Coordinator shall establish and chair an Advisory Group to assist and inform the Spanish language election program. The Coordinator shall invite participation from all interested individuals and organizations that work with or serve the Spanish-speaking community in Springfield, to determine how to most effectively provide election materials, information, and assistance to Spanish-speaking voters, and to fill any gaps in public awareness about Springfield's bilingual election program due to past failures to provide accessible election-related information to Spanish-speaking voters. The Advisory Group shall be open to all interested persons. The Advisory Group shall meet at least once before the September 19, 2006 primary.         Checklist for Posting Spanish-Language Materials         12.   Defendants shall adopt a checklist identifying each Spanish language and bilingual material that Springfield makes available to the public at each polling place. The checklist shall include with respect to each item an attestation that the poll workers at the polling place posted or made available to voters these Spanish language or bilingual materials, or a detailed written explanation of why individual items had not been posted or were not available. The poll workers for each polling place must complete and sign this document before the poll workers receive payment for work in the election, subject to applicable state and federal law. Defendants shall maintain a record of each such failure to complete and sign the checklist.         Publicity         13.   Defendants shall ensure that they provide all election information, materials, and announcements in both English and Spanish. Spanish language information shall be distributed in newspapers, radio, the Internet (including on the City's official election website), and other media that exclusively or regularly publish or broadcast information in Spanish. These Spanish language announcements need not be identical in all respects to English language announcements, either in terms of the wording of the announcements or in the amounts spent in distributing them, but shall provide substantially the same information.         14.   This Order shall remain in effect until such time as the three-judge court can make a determination on the United States' motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court hereby enters the relief set forth in this Order and incorporates those terms herein. ENTERED and ORDERED this ____ day of _____________, 2006. ______________________________________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT Date: 21st day of August, 2006                                                        Presented by Plaintiff United States,                                                        WAN J. KIM
                                                       Assistant Attorney General                                                        MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
                                                       United States Attorney
                                                       KAREN GOODWIN
                                                       Assistant United States Attorney
                                                       1550 Main Street
                                                       Springfield, MA 01103                                                        ________/s/________________
                                                       JOHN TANNER
                                                       Chief, Voting Section
                                                       SUSANA LORENZO-GIGUERE
                                                       Special Counsel
                                                       JOHN "BERT" RUSS
                                                       VERONICA SEUNGWON JUNG
                                                       Trial Attorneys
                                                       United States Department of Justice
                                                       Civil Rights Division, Voting Section
                                                       950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
                                                       Room NWB-7254
                                                       Washington, D.C. 20530
                                                       Phone: (202) 305-0688
                                                       Fax:(202) 307-3961
                                                       john.russ@usdoj.gov
                                                       veronica.jung@usdoj.gov

Certificate of Service

           I hereby certify that this document(s) filed through the ECF system will be sent electronically to the registered participants as identified on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) and paper copies will be sent to those indicated as non-registered participants.

August 21, 2006

                                                       ________/s/___________________
                                                       VERONICA SEUNGWON JUNG
                                                       Voting Section, Trial Attorney >
Updated August 6, 2015

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