WASHINGTON Ė The Justice Department announced today that it will monitor primary elections on May 29, 2012, in Fort Bend, Harris and Jefferson Counties in Texas, to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes. 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 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 and Jefferson Counties based on the attorney generalís certification. 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. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these counties, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Harris County. 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 Departmentís Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.