No Charges May Be Filed Over Guards at Polling Places

From a Times Staff Writer

A U.S. Justice Department attorney investigating the Orange County Republican Party's 1988 placement of uniformed guards at polling places in Latino neighborhoods said in a recent letter that "it will be difficult" to bring criminal charges in the case.

In the first comment about the nearly two-year criminal investigation, U.S. Deputy Assistant Atty. Gen. Bruce C. Navarro wrote that federal laws may not apply because there was no violence involved and that the only laws it has found regarding voter intimidation say it is illegal to attempt to alter the outcome of a federal race--not one for state Assembly.

Navarro, in a response to inquiries by Rep. Jim Bates (D-San Diego), added, however, that there has not been a final determination about whether criminal charges will be filed.

The case stems from the decision by county Republican Party leaders and the campaign of Assemblyman Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) to hire guards at 20 polling places in predominantly Latino neighborhoods of Santa Ana for the 1988 general election. Some of the guards carried signs written in Spanish that warned non-citizens that it is illegal to vote.

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