Teams from US Dept. of Justice and US Attorney General's Office Arrive in Springfield on Monday to Intervene Regarding Widespread Voter Rights Violations

November 4, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

SPRINGFIELD -- On Monday, teams from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Attorney General's office will arrive in Springfield. They will investigate serious and widespread voting rights violations on preliminary election day, monitor polling places on general election day (Tuesday, Nov. 8) to ensure voter rights are protected, and investigate multiple areas of noncompliance with the settlement order issued in 2006 after the DOJ sued the City of Springfield for violations of the Federal Voter Rights Act of 1965.

On October 20th and 21st, Ward 1 City Councilor Zaida Luna, the NAACP (Springfield Chapter), the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights sent urgent requests to the US Department of Justice for intervention in the City of Springfield regarding widespread voter rights violations. The letters, which cite multiple incidents and areas of noncompliance with the Federal Voting Rights Act and the DOJ's 2006 settlement order with the City of Springfield, can be downloaded as PDFs here:

http://aclum.org/sites/all/files/legal/voting_rights/cv.pdf
http://aclum.org/sites/all/files/legal/voting_rights/springfield_doj_let...
http://aclum.org/sites/all/files/legal/voting_rights/naacp_doj.pdf

Councilor Luna's letter also quantifies the egregious and persistent de facto voter participation disparities in Springfield, and describes an incident in which an African-American voter was handed a ballot with the Mayor's name already checked off. A copy of this exact ballot (signed by the elections commissioner, who has verified that this actually happened) can be downloaded as a PDF here:

http://aclum.org/sites/all/files/legal/voting_rights/ballot.pdf

"In high minority wards like mine," explains Councilor Zaida Luna, "less than a third as many registered voters actually cast a ballot as compared to low minority wards. It now appears that serious voter rights violations are at least part of the explanation."

"The NAACP, both locally and nationally, is concerned about voting irregularities and efforts across the nation to suppress the voting rights of communities of color," explains Springfield NAACP President, Rev. Talbert Swan II. "We welcome the monitoring of the Department of Justice in Springfield, as this historic election will determine our city's leadership for the next four years and set the tone for the 2012 presidential election."

"The City of Springfield appears to again not be complying with the laws designed to insure all voters have equal access to the polls, which fundamentally is undemocratic," said Bill Newman, director of the ACLU's Western Massachusetts Legal Office.

For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, see:
http://aclum.org


 

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