NEW YORK— The national public policy center Demos welcomes the expanded availability of language assistance for limited-English-proficient voters in future elections, as announced yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase was occasioned by the Census Bureau’s recalculation of Latino, Asian American, Native American and Alaskan Native citizens needing such assistance, as provided for under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.
The Census Bureau found that 19,209,431 voting-age citizens in 248 jurisdictions were not sufficiently proficient in English, almost 6 million or 42.7 percent more than were counted in the last such calculation in 2002. Bilingual ballots, translated voter registration forms, and interpreters at polling places must now be offered in 248 jurisdictions in xx states. 30.7 percent of the total U.S. voting-age population resides in these jurisdictions.
Many of the new jurisdictions covered by the language assistance requirements of the Voting Rights Act are in states and localities that have not been commonly recognized as immigrant destinations in the past, such as Nebraska, Virginia and Wisconsin. South Asian languages will be offerd for the first time in four jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Michigan, and New York.
Demos has long-championed voter assistance programs on a state and national level, working to ensure that the these programs keep pace with a national electorate that is increasingly diverse and subject to the risk of disenfranchisement.
“Americans from communities from across the states, ranging from Filipino to Vietnamese to Bangladeshi will benefit from these newly announced assistance programs,” said Tova Andrea Wang
, Senior Democracy Fellow. “This expanded access to language assistance, while encouraging, is now an issue of implementation. Full and thorough implementation and enforcement of these requirements are necessary to ensure all Americans are able and informed enough to exercise their right to vote.”
For a complete list of which jurisdictions are covered and for which language minority groups, see here: http://bit.ly/pt4Vbk
To speak with Tova Andrea Wang and other voting rights experts please see the above contact information.