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News Release

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Voting Rights Program News

January 2014

Voting Rights Program Update 

January 2014

 In This Update:

 Happy New Year | Pay Increase | Donna T. Pressley Award |

 Updating Your Information | Your 2013 W-2 and Employee Express |

Upcoming Elections | Recruitment Contest | Contact Information | Getting to Know You


Happy New Year! 

It is hard to believe another year has come and gone.  We hope everyone had a safe and happy new year.   Your voting rights staff continues to be hard at work, getting ready for 2014 and the mid-term election season. 

 Pay Increase

 We also have good news!   After a three-year freeze, we are processing the following new pay rates for 2014.

 Observer:     $20.43    |    Co-Captain:     $24.99    |    Captain:     $30.23

Donna T. Pressley Award

 We are pleased to announce the 2013 Donna T. Pressley Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to Bill D'Amato.  Mike Quinto, VR Program Manager, presented Bill the award in September. 

Bill D'Amato and Mike QuintoBill has been part of the Voting Rights Program for almost 30 years.   During this time, he participated in numerous elections becoming one of the Program’s most valuable leaders.  One captain who worked with Bill, recalled how he counseled his observers to handle all sorts of contentious situations in the polling places. His guidance proved invaluable expertise to those who were working at the polling sites. It was clear the polling officials they did not want observers there.   As DOJ expanded coverage to the Northeast, Bill provided training to many new observers, and can always be counted on to lend a helping hand. 

On September 11, 2001, one of the most memorable days in our country’s recent history, Bill served as a Voting Rights Captain in lower Manhattan.   The teams had walked to their assigned polling sites and were in place when the hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Bill’s quick thinking enabled his co-captains to reach all of the teams and return them safely back to the hotel command center. The next several anxious days, Bill worked tirelessly with his Voting Rights Coordinator and Program Manager, planning when and how they could get everyone home. In the end, all of the observers under his watch returned home safely.  

This was Bill at his best, taking care of his colleagues, ensuring their needs were met.   The world will never know there were federal observers in place protecting their voting rights on this tragic day. 

Bill has a very quiet, calming manner and is extremely professional in carrying out his responsibilities.  He has excellent knowledge of all aspects of the program.  He demonstrates a great respect for Observers, his fellow leadership staff, and the Department of Justice attorneys, quickly gaining their respect and cooperation.   Additionally, in a position, which requires a high-level of flexibility and problem solving, Bill consistently adapts to changes during the election coverage. His efficiency not only helps diffuse tense situations at the polling sites, but his professionalism also enhances the reputation of the Voting Rights Program.  

Congratulations Bill!

Updating Your Information

It is very important that you keep your coordinators up to date with any changes to your address, banking, and phone/email information.  Without current information, they will be unable to contact you regarding upcoming elections, your pay and travel reimbursements will not be processed properly, and your W2 address/tax rate will not be correct.  Please send an email to with your updated information.


Your 2013 W-2 and Employee Express 

You will only be issued a form W-2 if you worked in 2013.   If you are not sure if you worked an election, you can check to see if you were issued a timesheet from LATTE.   You can retrieve your W-2 from Employee Express (EEX) after January 30, 2014.  If you have not previously used EEX ( or have forgotten your password, call the EEX Helpdesk at 478-757-3030 between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm ET.  (If you work full-time for a Federal agency that does not use EEX, be sure to indicate your agency as OPM when dealing with EEX.)  The Helpdesk will verify your home address and will mail a new password to you within 7 to 21 days.  HelpDesk agents will not give out passwords over the phone or send them via email.  

Once you have been set up in LATTE and Employee Express, we strongly recommend that you make note of the separate logins and passwords for future use.  

VR Program Staff can assist with login/password issues for LATTE, but they do not have access to login/password information for Employee Express. 

Upcoming Elections 

We are working with DOJ to put together the list of possible elections for 2014.  Your coordinator will send you an availability request ahead of any upcoming elections. 


Recruitment Contest 

We are pleased to announce we had a tie with our recruitment contest.   With all of the referrals we received, we were able to onboard almost 50 new observers.  Our winners were Norma Warner and Fundador Perez.   Congratulations!!!


Donna PressleyGetting to Know You

We are adding a new segment in our newsletter profiling you, the program’s observers.  Randomly we will select an observer to be interviewed, sharing their history with the VR program.  In this issue, we are starting with our interview of Donna Pressley.

 Q:  Tell me a bit, about how you began your career with the VR Program.

A:  It was 1965, and I worked as a secretary with the Civil Service Commission, which is OPM today. I worked in the Regional Director’s office in Atlanta, GA when the march in Selma, AL took place.  President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in August of 1965 and a week later, the African American communities of AL, MS, GA, SC and LA began to register to vote.  I was responsible to type the list of registered voters.  This was an important task, as we had to add codes to the lists making sure the counties were all separated accordingly.  In May of 1966 the first Federal Observers were deployed in Alabama for the primary election.  Only male OPM investigators were deployed and women were not allowed to work until much later.

 Q:  When did you begin working so close with the observer cadre?

A:  In 1980, I was the Administrative Officer and was given the task to coordinate with ten regional area offices of OPM, including the Atlanta Office to gather OPM employees to be deployed to observe.  There were times we would use close to over 600 observers.  Those were busy times.

 Q:  I know you have been on many elections coverages; however, do you have one that is the most memorable?

A:   I think my most memorable coverage was the first one I was sent to as an observer.  I went out to cover in Robinsonville, MS for the November General Election in 1978.  I was scared to death; however, I had a good trainer and I did it all!  As our day began, I remember the first person I observed was an elderly woman, who appeared to be voting for the first time.  When I asked her if I could observe her voting, she could see how scared I was.  After telling me, “It’s okay to watch me”, she turned and patted my arm letting me know all would be fine.  “It was such a long day, and back then, the ballots were all in paper you see.  I stood for six hours on my toes, behind a very tall polling manager, watching him read and count each ballot.  We had to watch very carefully to make sure the officials were reading the ballots correctly, and if they were incorrect, they would have to start over.  We knew where their mistake would be, but we could not let them know…even back then, we had to be the eyes and ears only.”

Q: Where do see the Voting Rights Program going as we enter 2014?

A:  I believe as we move into the future, I see the program involving into a more technical program.  However, I truly believe the human aspect still needs to remain present.   

From the day we started the program until today, we continue to do the same work.  We may have a different pattern on personnel selection, procedures, and even a change in report forms; however, in the end, our goal is to obtain the same outcome of information for the Department of Justice.  

Our Contact Information

Program Office (Washington, DC) Michael Quinto ( | 202-606-5290 | Sherry Johnson | 202-606-1030 | ( | 202-606-1400 or 1-866-885-4122 (toll-free) | Fax: 202-606-0398 

Northern Region (Philadelphia) | Paul Farmer ( | 215-861-1060 

Southern Region (Atlanta) | Robbie Brock ( | 404-331-3468

Lead/Western Region (Denver) | Renée DeHerrera-Gallegos, ( | 303-236-8032


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