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Summit Examines Language Access for Voters

Press Releases

U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Arizona State University Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service, Democracy Fund Voice Join Forces to Convene National Language Access Gathering

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Arizona State University Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service and Democracy Fund Voice today hosts the third annual Language Access for Voters Summit at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The day-long event will convene state and local election officials, advocates and stakeholders from language communities to discuss critical issues of language accessibility. The event comes as election officials prepare for this November’s election, the first federal election since the most recent Voting Rights Act Section 203 determinations were released.

“This convening is a unique opportunity for experts, election officials, and government leaders from across the nation to gather and discuss the critical issue of language access for voters,” said EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks. “We are proud to join with ASU and Democracy Fund Voice to examine ways to increase and improve language access efforts at the polls.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 percent of Americans speak a foreign language at home. Among those citizens are voters who may want or need language assistance, such as having their ballot or other election materials in their native language. Across the nation, federal law requires more than 260 jurisdictions to provide some type of language assistance for voters.

The Summit’s agenda includes discussions about demographic changes, the Section 203 designation process, federal requirements under the Voting Rights Act, voluntary and proactive language assistance, as well as strategies for cost-effective services. Participants will also highlight how emerging trends in election administration, such as the spread of vote centers and new election technologies, are impacting language access. The summit aims to share information, as well as generate new understanding and appreciation between various stakeholder communities.

Today’s agenda includes panels featuring election officials, government leaders, voting rights groups, and other experts who will examine the best ways to provide language access at the polls. Speakers will represent Asian American, Latino, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and additional language communities from across the country. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea will deliver luncheon remarks. For a full list of today’s speakers, please see the agenda at this link.

Today’s event is open to press and the public. The summit can also be viewed online. To request an interview, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at [email protected] or 202-897-9285.

accessibility, language