WASHINGTON (CNN) - Federal election monitors are being dispatched to South Dakota to protect Native American voting rights on Tuesday, the final day of primary elections in the Democratic presidential nomination race.
Officials in the Justice Department's civil rights division announced they would send an unspecified number of observers "to watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations" in Todd, Shannon, Bennett, Jackson, and Mellette counties in South Dakota.
Native Americans comprise more than 94 percent of the population in Shannon County, and 85 percent of the population in Todd County. More than 40 percent of residents in the two counties live below the poverty line.
Native Americans make up more than 8 percent of the state's population, making them the largest minority group in South Dakota.
Several voting rights lawsuits have been filed in Todd and Shannon counties, which fall under a section of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits officials from changing voting procedures without Justice Department approval.
Courts have noted low voter turnout and found discriminatory efforts to dilute Native American representation through redistricting.
As is customary, Justice Department officials would not disclose exactly where the monitors will be nor what they will be looking for, but said any problems spotted would be reported promptly to government civil rights attorneys.
The Justice Department said it is also sending monitors to Perry County, Alabama; Alameda and Riverside Counties in California; Salem County, New Jersey; and Cibola and Sandoval counties in New Mexico to protect minority voting rights in Tuesday balloting.