U.S. Department of Justice to Observe Springfield Elections

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice arrived in Springfield Monday to get ready to monitor polling stations on Tuesday.

Springfield City Councilor Zaida Luna was the first person to contact the Department of Justice and ask for intervention after the recent primary election. She says she expects more Spanish speaking poll workers will be stationed at the city's 64 stations, including the five in her ward, which is in the city's mostly Latino North End.

"We have a lot of problems with people not on the list, polls not open on time. And when I contacted the Department of Justice my concern was that in 2006 we had the same problem."

In 2006 the Department of Justice sued the City of Springfield for violations of the Federal Voter Rights Act of 1965.
Now The Springfield Chapter of the NAACP and the ACLU have joined Councilor Luna in asking for Justice Department observers. Bill Newman is director of the ACLU'S Western Massachusetts office.

"We are pleased the DOJ has taken this seriously and has substantiated the need to have a monitoring team at this election. The Department of Justice being here certainly tends to alleviate any possibility of there being more problems."
 
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said, "The monitoring will ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group."