Federal officials are keeping an eye on elections in Prince George’s County, where officials must comply with a new requirement to reach out to voters in Spanish.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Monday it would have voting law compliance monitors in dozens of cities and counties across the country, including Prince George’s County.

The announcement didn’t list the reason, but a top state elections official said Tuesday that it has to do with a requirement to provide Spanish-language assistance to voters in the diverse county.

Under the federal Voting Rights Act, Prince George’s is newly designated as a jurisdiction where the Spanish-language assistance is required, said Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections.

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Charlson said Prince George’s County had already been providing the Spanish materials voluntarily, so the federal requirement didn’t need any changes. The monitoring was expected, she said.

“We were aware they were coming and so was the local board,” Charlson told reporters during a briefing Tuesday.

Justice Department officials are monitoring 64 jurisdictions in 24 states for compliance with federal voting laws.


Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County.

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