According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there are more than 25 million people in the U.S. with limited English proficiency and more than 60 million who speak a language other than English at home. Such individuals can face challenges when attempting to register to vote and cast a ballot. From translated materials to bilingual assistance at the polls, election officials across the country take a number of steps to help such voters overcome language barriers and participate meaningfully in the elections process. In certain jurisdictions, such assistance is required by language provisions in the federal Voting Rights Act.
Ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), in partnership with Arizona State University Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service, and Democracy Fund Voice are hosting the third annual Language Access for Voters Summit at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
As in years past, the event will convene state and local election officials, advocates and stakeholders from language communities to discuss critical issues of language accessibility. Speakers will share experiences and observations on efforts to serve voters with language needs.
Today, the EAC is pleased to announce the first panel of the Language Access Summit, “Current Issues and Looking Ahead to 2021,” moderated by Terry Ao Minnis, Senior Fellow and Consultant, Democracy Fund Voice:
- James Whitehorne, Chief, Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office, U.S. Census Bureau
- John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC
- Julie Barker, Election Operations Supervisor, Clark County, Nevada
- Rosalind Gold, Senior Director, Policy, Research and Advocacy, NALEO Education Fund
The panel will help set the stage for the day's discussion on best practices and practical tools for serving language minority voters, implementing Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act and beyond. Panelists will discuss demographic shifts, what they mean for serving language needs across the nation, current issues faced by jurisdictions covered by Section 203 and those who are close to coverage.