Feds To Monitor Mississippi Vote

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"We go out and do these things from time to time," a DOJ said, when asked whether anything in particular sparked the Department’s interest.

[National: The Justice Reports]

The Department of Justice plans to monitor elections tomorrow in the towns of Cleveland, Como, Meridian and Sardis, Miss., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a spokesperson told The Black Star News.

"We go out and do these things from time to time," a DOJ said, when asked whether anything in particular sparked the Department’s interest.  

"Last year we deployed Federal observers to monitor elections. This could have resulted from anything.  Mississippi, the entire state is covered by sections of the 1965 Civil Rights Act."

Under the landmark Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to areas that are specially covered in the act or by a federal court order, the Department said.

“Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities for the election in the town of Cleveland based on the special coverage provisions,” the Department added.

“The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in this jurisdiction, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials. In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor the municipal elections in the towns of Como, Meridian and Sardis for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.”

On April 29, in a separate case, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a legal challenge to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund presented argument to the Court in defense of the law in a case that is widely regarded as one of the most important voting rights cases in recent time.

At issue was the Section 5 preclearance provision which requires a select number of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit new voting laws to the Department of Justice or a federal court for preapproval -- a process known as preclearance.

The Appellant, a small Texas-based utility district, filed the case seeking to end its responsibility for having its voting changes reviewed but more significantly to have the preclearance provision of the Act declared unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the suit last spring finding Congress well within its authority to renew this key provision of the Voting Rights Act in light of significant evidence of ongoing voting discrimination in the jurisdictions where the law applies.

Justice Department officials said each year,  the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country.

In calendar year 2008, for example, 1,060 federal observers and 344 Department personnel were sent to monitor 114 elections in 76 jurisdictions in 24 states.

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.




(With contributions from PRNewswire)

Readers can access more information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws at
www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/

Please post your comments online or submit them to milton@blackstarnews.com

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