Justice Department to monitor elections in New York and Ohio

“The monitoring will ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group,” the department wrote in a release. 

Voters in New York head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the Democratic primary for New York mayor and city comptroller. Bill de Blazio has been leading the pack of candidates in recent polls, with Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn, John Liu and former Rep. Anthony Weiner, (D-N.Y.) trailing behind. 

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer are running for comptroller on the Democratic ticket. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Queens County’s board of elections was directed in January to provide written language assistance at the polls in Bengali, Punjabi and Hindi. Asian-Indians are newly covered as a minority under the Language Assistance Provisions in the federal Voting Rights Act. 

Cuyahoga County, which covers portions of Cleveland, will be holding a primary election Tuesday for local seats. 

DOJ is sending federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to polling places in Ohio as a result of a court order. They will coordinate with a civil rights division attorney at the department. 

This comes after the United States Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in June, which outlined a formula determining which areas of the country would need pre-clearance before voting laws could be enacted. 

Section 5 of the law said nine states and a number of smaller jurisdictions needed pre-clearance from the Justice Department. But it now doesn’t apply because of SCOTUS’s decision. 

Neither Queens County nor Cuyhoga County was on the original pre-clearance list. 

DOJ announced a lawsuit in July specifically challenging Texas's strict voter ID law in an attempt to have all of the state's voting laws be pre-cleared by the federal government again. DOJ has suggested they will launch similar legal challenges in other states with strict voting laws.

This story was corrected at 8:59 a.m. on Sept. 10.