The city and the Justice Department have reached a settlement that resolves a federal lawsuit over whether Philadelphia provided enough assistance to Spanish-speaking voters at polling places, the mayor's office said yesterday.

The federal government sued in September, alleging that the city violated the Voting Rights Act by allowing only poll workers - some of whom did not speak Spanish - to help Hispanic voters cast ballots. The Justice Department asked a panel of federal judges to require observers at city polls during November's election, but the panel refused.

In the settlement, city officials said they had appointed a Spanish-language coordinator to monitor compliance, expanded bilingual staff at polls, formalized the role of an advisory group, and improved signs at polling places. The settlement contains no admission of wrongdoing, city officials said.

For the May 15 primary, the city Election Board also will provide interpreters at polls for voters who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Khmer, Italian and Russian, City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. said in a statement. The city said it continued to seek Spanish-English interpreters for the primary. - AP