Justice Department Looks at Local Voting

Brazos County officials have scheduled a press conference for 8:30am Thursday after meetings this week with the Justice Department. The topic of discussion has been bilingual election workers -- or a possible lack thereof.

County officials are being very tight-lipped about their meetings with the DOJ. Wednesday morning, they met for a second time behind closed courthouse doors.

One high-ranking county official says Thursday morning's announcement could be seen as a negative one concerning the county.

The justice department's last known visit was during early voting and on primary election day this past March.

Representatives from the local Republican and Democratic parties cite a call from the county clerk's office about three weeks before the start of early voting, a call asking that the parties find bilingual election officials. It was a call the parties say they weren't able to fully answer, as not all of the precincts were able to be staffed with a bilingual rep.

By law, reasonable efforts must be made to appoint a sufficient number of election clerks fluent in English and Spanish.

"We really scurried on this to find them," said Maggie Charleton, the executive director of the Brazos County Democratic Party. "We had some in place, but it's very difficult to find election workers, period. The pay is $7 an hour. The day is 14 hours long."

Officials with the Republican Party said the same thing. In fact, despite all the ideological divides, there was a bipartisan local effort to find spanish speakers for the polls.

County officials, tight-lipped as they are, would say that they'd be discussing new guidelines or tools when it comes to those bilingual workers.


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