OAKLAND -- The federal government is paying special attention to Tuesday's election in Alameda County, deploying observers who will be closely watching local poll workers.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that it will monitor elections in three counties nationwide: Alameda and Napa counties in California and Cibola County in New Mexico.
The federal observers will visit polling places and record activities to make sure election workers are complying with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race or language.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is no stranger to federal monitors, who have regularly watched local elections since a 2011 court order compelled the county to fix access problems for voters who have trouble speaking English.
The Justice Department sued the county in June 2011, alleging that poll workers violated the rights of voters who needed language assistance in Spanish, Mandarin or Cantonese. The federal action followed monitoring and complaints about poor access by Asian-American advocacy groups.
Since 1992, Alameda County has been required by federal law to provide bilingual help and translated ballot materials to Latino and Chinese voters. The county must also now provide assistance to Vietnamese, Tagalog, Hindi, Khmer, Japanese and Korean speakers.
Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis said he is ready for the federal monitoring after his office has improved its bilingual outreach in recent years. The county has 1,300 bilingual poll workers ready to go Tuesday morning after his office appealed for help on Chinese television stations and other outlets.
"It's an evolving effort that keeps getting better," Dupuis said.