Under the federal Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department can send observers to monitor polling in 16 states with a history of discrimination.
Last year, the Justice Department settled six lawsuits that charged Texas cities, counties and school districts had violated the rights of Spanish-speaking residents by producing misleading translated materials and not having enough Spanish-speaking election workers. One lawsuit was filed against Galveston County.
Waller County has a history of voting problems. After the 2006 elections, the state attorney general's office seized county election records after complaints that black voters' rights were violated. About 300 students at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black school, said they had to wait three to four hours to vote and ended up casting provisional ballots because their names were missing from election rosters.
About 1,000 students from Prairie View marched seven miles from campus to the county courthouse last month to call attention to voting problems in the county.
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