Federal election workers to monitor county polling places

The East Bay county is one of eight nationwide locations to be monitored by Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division workers during Tuesday's elections to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

During voting hours Tuesday, the federal workers will watch and record activity at polling places countywide, according to a Justice Department statement.

According to the Justice Department's website, the federal government filed a complaint against Alameda County in June alleging the county violated the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide "efficient access to the electoral process for Spanish and Chinese-speaking citizens who need language assistance and translated materials" in order to vote.

In July, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney's office announced an agreement with Alameda County requiring the county to provide election information and materials in Spanish and Chinese, according to a Justice Department statement.

County officials also agreed to allow the federal election monitors at the polls Tuesday, as they have for at least the past decade, Alameda County Registrar Dave Macdonald said today.

"We want to provide material in all the languages and we want to make sure we have poll workers that are bi-lingual," he said.

The main changes for voters this year will be the availability of bilingual ballots as opposed to mono-lingual ballots in English, Spanish or Chinese and more bilingual poll workers at polling places countywide, Macdonald said.

Citizens may report discriminatory voting practices -- including any harassment or intimidation observed -- by calling the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at (800) 253-3931.

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