Justice Department to Monitor Elections

WASHINGTON- On Nov. 3, 2009, the Justice Department will monitor elections in the following jurisdictions to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes: the cities of Lowell and Springfield, Mass.; the city of Hamtramck, Mich.; Middlesex County and the borough of Penns Grove, N.J.; Orange County and Queens, N.Y., and the city of Philadelphia.

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 areas that are certified by the Attorney General or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities by court order in Springfield and Penns Grove. Both cities are required to provide Spanish-language assistance at the polls to voters according to the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these cities.

In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor elections in Lowell, Hamtramck, Middlesex County, Orange County, Queens and Philadelphia for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

In all of these jurisdictions, Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the 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.