Monday, March 20, 2006

Lowell MA Vote Problems Probed By DOJ!

This is interesting! The DOJ is probing the failure of Lowell, MA's election commissioner to translate ballots into Khmer. Meanwhile, the DOJ ignores all of the vote counting problems encountered by election counting machines produced by Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia! Bizarre!

We now know that the DOJ is paying attention to the election problems; they want to ensure that ballots are translated into foreign languages - BUT they are actually IGNORING the bigger, nation-wide vote counting errors caused by flawed e-Voting machines. I have greatly "snipped" this article. The complete article can be found HERE.

Lowell Vote Problems Probed
Translating ballot into Khmer (Cambodian language) eyed
By Stephanie Ebbert, Globe Staff | March 19, 2006

The US DOJ is conducting an investigation into voting problems in the city of Lowell, as advocates called for an increase in voting assistance to growing immigrant populations in the Bay State.

The Lowell investigation, confirmed by a DOJ spokesman this past week, is the 4th recent probe into alleged voting rights violations in Massachusetts city elections. Other cities targeted by the DOJ are Springfield, Lawrence, and Boston, which entered into a consent decree to print ballots in multiple languages, including Vietnamese, Chinese, and Spanish.

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division launched a major initiative to ensure that communities are complying with the Voting Rights Act last year. Last fall, the DOJ announced it would send federal observers to monitor the November elections in Boston, Lowell, and 14 other communities across the country. [My Query: Will the DOJ pay any attention to voting machine errors?]

DOJ spokesman Eric W. Holland confirmed that the Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division is investigating Lowell, but refused to provide additional details on the probe.

Holland confirmed the DOJ is also investigating complaints in Springfield, where observers from a nonprofit voting rights group last November documented a lack of translators, a lack of information regarding their right to provisional ballots, and rudeness by poll workers.

In Lawrence, the department is investigating problems after the city sent letters to some 15,000 voters shortly before Election Day advising them they were no longer considered active voters.

Last summer, the DOJ sued the city of Boston for violating provisions of the Voting Rights Act requiring the Election Department to provide ballots and poll assistance in Spanish and for allegedly coercing limited English speakers to vote certain ways. As part of a settlement, the city also agreed to print ballots in Chinese and Vietnamese in precincts with high concentrations of those voters.

In a letter he sent to the election commissioners in January, staff attorney Glenn D. Magpantay detailed the results of the group's survey of 116 Asian-American voters at three poll sites. Five voters said they were directed to the wrong polling places, and one had to cast a provisional ballot because his name was listed incorrectly in the voter roll.

SoS William F. Galvin characterized the issues raised by the group as "fairly minor." John Bonifaz, a voting rights advocate running against Galvin, criticized him for not being aware of the investigations.

"It remains bewildering to me how the secretary of state's office seems unaware of these investigations," said Bonifaz. "I don't think we should have to rely upon the Bush Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act in Massachusetts. I think we should have a secretary of state who is being proactive and ensuring that the Voting Rights Act is being enforced around Massachusetts."

Magpantay said the city still has not addressed problems raised in the 2004 elections when, his group alleges, voters whose names were not on the rolls were not told that they could vote by provisional ballots, as required under a 2002 federal law.

"We look forward to the city translating the ballot in Khmer. And we're looking forward to discussing problems with the 2004 elections," Magpantay said.

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at - © Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.


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