LatinoJustice and GALEO Join to Advocate for Spanish Voting Materials in Gwinnett and Hall counties
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 4, 2015
(Atlanta, Georgia) LatinoJustice PRLDEF and GALEO have sent a joint letter to election officials in Gwinnett and Hall counties requesting that they produce bilingual voting materials before the 2016 election.
Bilingual ballots are a necessary and important tool that provides citizens with limited English proficiency with the ability to understand sometimes complex ballot items. Under the Voting Rights Act, jurisdictions should provide voting rights assistance for those persons educated in American flag schools whose primary language is not English.
“The law primarily protects Puerto Rican voters as they are native born American citizens and should not lose their right to vote simply because of language barriers when moving to the mainland United States,” the letter states. “The lack of bilingual voting materials prevents Spanish speaking Puerto Ricans from fully participating in the Electoral process.”
Based on U.S. Census data, 27.5% of Hall County’s population is Hispanic and 26.2% of the county’s population speaks a language other than English at home. Twenty percent of Gwinnett County’s population is Hispanic.
“Bilingual ballots simply seek to have more people come to the polls and participate in the voting process,” said Martha Pardo, Associate Attorney, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “We’d certainly like them to fix this on the local level, but we are prepared to go to federal court to get these counties to follow the law.”
“A lot of efforts have been done to ensure that the Latino electorate continues to participate in Georgia’s elections. Ensuring language access to Spanish speaking U.S. citizens who need the access is a step in the right direction and we look forward to working with both Hall and Gwinnett Counties on accomplishing this in time for the 2016 elections,” said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO.
The full letters are available on GALEO’s website: