Department of Justice monitors voting in Osceola County



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Thousands of Florida residents are hitting the polls for the Tuesday primary election, but in Osceola County voters are being watched by the Department of Justice.

The county won't release voting totals until after 7 p.m.

WFTV's Nancy Alvarez was at a polling center where a team kept an eye on things.

People walking out of the Robert Guevara Community Center may not have noticed, but their voting experience was being watched.

The Department of Justice dispatched a team to Osceola County to make sure all election rules are followed.

"Was there a lot of running around yesterday when this was decided?" WFTV's Nancy Alvarez asked.

"We prepared for this election like we do every election," said elections spokeswoman Amber Smith.

A representative for the supervisor of elections office told WFTV dozens of bilingual poll workers were in place on Tuesday. That's one thing the DOJ said it would be looking for.

Also required by law are voter information guides, mailers, and ballots with every word that's printed in English and translated into Spanish.

But Osceola, where 40 percent of voters are Hispanic, was only one of five counties in the state singled out for scrutiny.

"When the department of justice is in your county that's a red flag. Something is not working right," said Marytza Sanz, of Latino Leadership.

Sanz heads Latino Leadership, a group that's watched local elections for years. She said a recent decision to shut down polling sites in predominantly Hispanic communities could be one reason the DOJ is there.

"I think it's something that gives you trust in the process and that will give the trust for the people to come out and vote," said Sanz.

Polk County was also chosen as a location for these teams, but so far we haven't heard of any problems from either county.

The turnout on Tuesday was around 20 percent in Orange and Seminole counties. Volusia County estimated a 30 to 35 percent turnout.

The DOJ is not commenting on why Osceola County was chosen for monitoring.

The Department of Justice was also in Osceola County to monitor the election back in 2004.