DOJ to Monitor Union County, New Jersey Primary Elections Under Consent Decree

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Department of Justice announced that it will monitor the June 4 primary election in Union County, New Jersey, to ensure that the county is complying with federal voting rights laws under an agreement reached last year.

The federal agency will assign observers to monitor the election in Union County — just west of Staten Island — and observe the county’s compliance with the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a news release. The plan is part of a consent decree established in June of 2023 between the DOJ and Union County, stemming from the agency’s lawsuit against the county over its failure to provide adequate information for Spanish-speaking voters with limited English proficiency. 

The consent decree mandates the implementation of a “comprehensive Spanish-language elections program under Section 203.” The provision requires certain jurisdictions to provide language assistance during elections for minority groups who are unable to speak or understand English sufficiently enough to participate in the electoral process. 

In the lawsuit, federal authorities also alleged that Union County was violating Section 208 of the VRA, which gives voters the right to seek voting assistance due to a disability or other potential barriers

Under the decree, the Union County clerk and elections board are expected to provide all election-related information in both English and Spanish, including information displayed in polling places and online, the DOJ said in a 2023 release. The decree requires that trained bilingual election workers be made available to answer voting-related questions by telephone.

It also gives any voter covered by Section 208 the right to be assisted by the person of that voter’s choice, other than a person affiliated with the voter’s employer or union, during any stage of the voting process.

Read the DOJ’s news release here. 

Learn more about the Union County lawsuit here.