AUSTIN, Texas (AP) The U.S. Justice Department will monitor Tuesday's primary elections in three Houston-area counties to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

The 1965 act prohibits voting discrimination based on race, color or membership in a minority language group. It also requires some jurisdictions to provide "language assistance" during voting.

In a statement Friday, the department said it will assign federal monitors to polling places in Harris, Fort Bend and Jefferson Counties who will watch and record activities during voting.

The announcement comes after the Houston-based tea party group the King Street Patriots dispatched hundreds of observers to Houston-area polling stations during the 2010 general election.

That sparked complaints of intimidation from minority organizations. But the King Street Patriots said its observers were simply looking for evidence of voter fraud.