Protection of Voting Rights

To provide protection of an individual's right to register and vote in all local, State and Federal elections without discrimination based on race, color, membership in a language minority group, or age.

To assure the rights of persons who are disabled or are unable to read or write to receive
assistance in voting from a person of their choice.

To assure the right to vote in Federal elections to United States citizens residing overseas.

To assure access to voter registration and to polling places for the elderly and handicapped, and to assure compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

To ensure that States and local government units responsible for administration of federal elections meet minimum election administration standards.

Agency - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Program Accomplishments

The Civil Rights Division's Voting Section vigorously enforces the Voting Rights Act ("VRA") and other laws that protect the right to vote. Primary enforcement efforts in FY 2007 were (1) monitoring of elections to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws; (2) litigation to enforce federal voting rights laws; (3) the administrative review of voting changes pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; (4) enforcement responsibility for Title III of the Help America Vote Act ("HAVA"); and (5) enforcement of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ("UOCAVA") and (6) enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). During the past few years, the Civil Rights Division has significantly increased its election monitoring activities, particularly in the use of Departmental staff in those areas of the country where the Attorney General cannot send federal observers because the jurisdictions are not subject to the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In FY 2007, the Voting Section coordinated and monitored elections in 91 jurisdictions located in 24 different states. Overall, the Department covered 107 elections with 479 Department personnel and the assignment of 875 federal observers. The Division continues to establish new landmarks in protecting the voting rights of individuals with limited English proficiency. Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act requires certain jurisdictions to provide bilingual voting materials and assistance to American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and/or persons of Spanish heritage. In FY 2007, lawsuits included actions to protect persons of Spanish heritage in the City of Philadelphia, PA; Galveston County , City of Earth, Littlefield ISD, Post ISD, Seagraves ISD, and Smyer ISD , TX , and Kane County , IL , and protection for Korean Americans in the City of Walnut , CA. Meanwhile, the Division continued to enforce the provisions of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which provides that the right to vote may not be denied or abridged on account of race or color, or because of membership in a language minority group. In the Fiscal Year, the Division filed a lawsuit against the Village of Port Chester, NY and successfully resolved lawsuits against Osceola County , FL , Noxubee County , MS , and the City of Euclid, OH. The Division also continued its enforcement of the NVRA, a law designed to expand registration opportunities for all citizens and to ensure proper maintenance of voter registration lists. Two cases remain pending against the State of New York for failure to provide adequate voter registration opportunities to voters, including public assistance agencies and at public college offices that provide services to persons with disabilities. The Division also brought a NVRA and HAVA lawsuits against the States of New Jersey regarding the State's list maintenance practices which was successfully resolved and brought HAVA and NVRA claims against Cibola County , NM which were also resolved. The Division continues to be active in enforcing the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). On January 1, 2006, requirements for voting system standards and statewide voter registration databases took effect. The Division is working to ensure that states comply with the new requirements. During FY 2007, with new provisions under the Help America Vote Act taking effect, the Division received 5,817 submissions of voting changes for administrative review under Section 5 of the VRA; 44 of these were redistricting plans. The Division is working to ensure that states promptly comply with the new requirements. In 2006, the Division was able to enter into a settlement agreement with the state of California. Negotiations are pending with several other states. During FY 2006, with new provisions under the Help America Vote Act taking effect, theDivision received 7,216 submissions of voting changes for administrative review under Section 5of the VRA; 75 of these were redistricting plans.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, prohibits state and local governments from imposing or applying any voting standard, qualification, prerequisite, or procedure in a manner that results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any U. S. citizen to vote on account of race or color or because an individual is a member of a language minority group.

The VRA bans the use of literacy and similar tests as a prerequisite to voter registration or voting, authorizes voters in need of assistance in voting (because of illiteracy or disability) to receive help from the person of their choice (other than their employer or union leader), and lets registered voters vote for president even if they change their residence shortly before a presidential election.

Certain specially covered States and political subdivisions are required to submit any voting changes either to the District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that the changes do not have a discriminatory purpose or effect, or, in the alternative, to the U. S. Attorney General, who has 60 days in which to object to the proposed changes.

Changes to which the Attorney General has objected are legally unenforceable unless a subsequent declaratory judgment is issued by the District Court for the District of Columbia.

The VRA requires certain counties (under formulas in the act) to provide voting and election information bilingually and authorizes the Attorney General to send Federal voting observers to certain designated counties to monitor election day polling place activities to prevent discrimination.

Under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C.

1973ff, the Attorney General enforces the right of U. S. citizens living outside of the United States to vote in Federal elections.

Under the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, 42 U.S.C.

1973ee, the States must provide accessible registration and voting facilities for Federal elections.

Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C.

1973gg, the States must conduct voter registration for Federal elections by mail and through motor vehicle and other agencies.

Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, 42 U.S.C.

15301, the States must administer federal elections in accord with minimal voting systems standards, requirements for provisional voting and voting information and requirements for computerized, statewide voter registration lists and voters who register by mail.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

All U.S.

citizens old enough to vote.

Beneficiary Eligibility

All U.S. citizens old enough to vote.


Not applicable.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Contact the headquarters office listed below.

Award Procedures

Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Voting Rights Act of 1965, Public Law 89-110, 42 U.S.C. 1973-1973bb-1; Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970, 1975, and 1982; Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992; Public Laws 91-285, 94-73, 97-205, and 102-344; 42 U.S.C. 1971, 42 U.S.C. 1974; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Public Law 99-410, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff; Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, Public Law 98-435, 42 U.S.C. 1973ee; National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Public Law 103-31, 42 U.S.C. 1973gg, Help America Vote Act of 2002, 42 U.S.C. 15301; Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, Public Law 109-246, 120 Stat. 577.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

There is no statutory formula or matching requirements for this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $11,810,000; FY 08 est $11,912,000; and FY 09 est $15,944,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

28 CFR 0.50; "Voting Rights Act of 1965, A Citizens Guide to Understanding the Voting Rights Act of 1965," (a copy of this pamphlet can be purchased from the Commission on Civil Rights-Clearinghouse Publication No. 84); 28 CFR 51; 45 CFR 801; 28 CFR 55.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, Washington, DC 20530. Telephone: (202) 307-3143, (800) 253-3931. Contact: Office of Public Affairs, Department of Justice. Telephone: (Voice) (202) 514-2007; (TDD) (202) 514-1888.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.

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