US Census lists places required to give voter language aid
WASHINGTON, DC – A notice was issued Dec. 5 by the director of the US Census Bureau identifying the US jurisdictions required to follow the language assistance provisions of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act (available at 81 Federal Register 87532).
The new Section 203 determinations, which are described in detail in the Voting Rights Act Coverage Update, replace the previous Section 203 determinations made in October 2011.
Key features of the new determinations include the following:
The number of states covered in whole or in part by Section 203 has increased from 25 states to 29.
All of the states previously covered in part continue to be covered, and four new states earned partial coverage since 2011: Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, and Oklahoma.
Los Angeles County, California, continues to be required to provide assistance in the most languages (6 languages): Spanish, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Vietnamese.
A number of states and political subdivisions identified in the Census determinations provide assistance in four covered language groups:
Spanish language assistance must be provided statewide in California, Florida, and Texas, and a total of 214 political subdivisions in 26 states, an increase from the 212 political subdivisions covered in 23 states under the 2011 determination.
Alaska Native language assistance must be provided in 15 political subdivisions of Alaska, which is an increase of eight political subdivisions from 2011.
American Indian language assistance must be provided in 35 political subdivisions in nine states, up from the 33 political subdivisions of five states covered in the 2011 determinations.
Asian language assistance must be provided in 27 political subdivisions in 12 states, up from the 22 political subdivisions of 11 states covered in the 2011 determinations.
When a jurisdiction is covered by Section 203, generally all “voting materials” it provides in English should be translated in the language of all groups or sub-groups covered by the determination.
Voting materials include voter registration materials, voting information provided by mail, publicity about the language assistance, ballots, and oral assistance at polling locations.
The language assistance provisions apply to all stages of the electoral process for “any type of election, whether it is a primary, general or special election.”
Leaders of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, NALEO Educational Fund
Native American Rights Fund, said they were encouraged by the Census Bureau’s expanded list of where voter language assistance is required and hoped that Congress would fully fund the bureau so it could get a more accurate count of the population and its subgroups.