Call for U.S. Dept. of Justice to Oversee Springfield Elections

A Springfield city councilor is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee many of the city's polling stations on election day. She says there was discrimination during preliminary elections last month.

Zaida Luna is a city councilor in Ward 1, the city's predominantly Latino North End. She is running in this year's race but is uncontested. She says she witnessed serious problems on the day of the Sept. 20th preliminary election that affected voter participation. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, she cites polls that did not open on time, incorrect information given about voting hours and polls with no Spanish speakers. But the city's election officer/commissioner Gladys Oyola says most of these problems were not reported on preliminary election day.

"We have people out in the field, both commissioners and people who are considered runners who actually address issues as they arise on election day."

The ACLU of Massachusetts and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights are also asking the Department of Justice to assign federal poll monitors in all precincts with significant minority populations. They, along with Luna, say assistance is needed to ensure that all voters have access to the polls, and that the city complies with the Federal Voting Rights Act. Oyola says she welcomes help from the Department of Justice on election day, but that it is not needed.