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Riverside, Alameda county polling places to get federal monitors

November 2, 2012 |  1:54 pm

Venice polling place, 2011Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice will be monitoring polling places in Riverside and Alameda counties along with nearly 50 other jurisdictions across the nation on Tuesday to ensure that federal voting rights laws are not violated.

The federal government began monitoring polling sites in Riverside County after the agency’s Civil Rights Division filed a complaint against the county for failing to offer election-related information and assistance to Spanish-speaking voters, a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The county and the Department of Justice reached a settlement in February 2010 that included having federal observers at polling stations.

A similar settlement was reached with Alameda County in 2011 after the federal government accused the county of failing to train an adequate number of poll workers to help Mandarin-, Cantonese- and Spanish-speaking voters on election day.

The Department of Justice will be monitoring polling places in 23 states.

Andre Birotte Jr., the U.S. attorney based in Los Angeles, on Friday also appointed Assistant U.S. Atty. Dennis Mitchell to serve as the department’s official election officer for the Nov. 6 election, to handle all citizen complaints of possible voting rights violations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

“Even a potential violation of voting rights is an extremely serious matter," Birotte said in a statement. “Every citizen is entitled to vote without interference or discrimination. Citizens should not hesitate to report possible violations of voting rights laws.’’

Voters can contact the nustice Deparmtment online, at (213) 894-2484, or at voting.section@usdoj.gov.

-- Phil Willon in Riverside

 Photo: Venice polling place. Source: Al Seib, Los Angeles Times.