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Justice Department to monitor South Carolina congressional election

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department will monitor voting in Charleston County, South Carolina, in Tuesday's special election to fill a House of Representatives seat, the department said on Monday.

Former South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford is facing Democratic newcomer Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of television political satirist Stephen Colbert, in the First District House race.

The Justice Department said in a statement it was monitoring the election under provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law bars election discrimination on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.

The department did not give a reason for the monitoring. Tuesday's vote will take place under South Carolina's new law mandating photo identification for voters, and Justice Department monitors observed primary elections.

The First District seat became vacant when Representative Tim Scott was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to replace Senator Jim DeMint. He had resigned to head the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Hundreds of federal monitors are deployed yearly to monitor elections throughout the country, the department said.

The Justice Department also will be monitoring elections in the Mississippi towns of Clarksdale, Como and Ruleville on Tuesday, it said.

Cathy Clark, the city clerk in Clarksdale, said there was no specific reason for the monitoring. "They just do it periodically," she said, adding the last time they monitored an election in the town was 12 years ago.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson and Harriet McLeod in Charleston; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Carol Bishopric)

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