[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed suit against the city of Philadelphia Friday for violating the rights of its Spanish-speaking voters in breach of the Voting Rights Act [text; DOJ backgrounder] of 1965. The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania [official website] and said that the city had violated Section 203 [text] of the act, which states:
[w]henever any State . . . provides any . . . materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the language of the applicable minority group.The complaint also alleged violations under Section 208, which provides that voters who need help in casting ballots may choose a person to assist them. Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Civil Rights Division [official website] Wan J. Kim [DOJ profile] said [DOJ statement] Friday that he hoped an agreement could be reached with the city in time for the November elections.
President Bush signed a bill in July [JURIST report] extending the lifetime of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act through 2032. This is not the first time the Justice Department has filed a suit like this in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In 2003, a complaint [text] was filed against Berks County citing lack of assistance for and discrimination against Hispanic voters. Reuters has more.