Bilingual Voting Assistance:

Costs of and Use During the November 1984 General Election

GGD-86-134BR: Published: Sep 15, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 1, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on state and local governments' expenses during the November 1984 general election on language assistance for minority voters.

GAO noted that: (1) 98 percent of the jurisdictions offered minority voters some form of assistance; and (2) Hispanics received the most voting assistance. GAO found that of the state and local governments that responded to its survey: (1) 83 local jurisdictions spent an additional $388,000 to provide oral assistance to minority groups; (2) 39 local jurisdictions spent an additional $30,000 for oral assistance; and (3) 10 states spent approximately $211,000 to provide written or oral assistance directly to voters or to local jurisdictions. GAO also found that, of the local governments that responded to the survey: (1) 80 percent could not estimate the extent to which written assistance was used; (2) 74 percent could not estimate the extent to which oral assistance was used; (3) 26 of the 49 that estimated the use of written assistance said no one used the assistance; (4) 29 of the 62 that estimated the use of oral assistance said no one used it; (5) 69,000 Hispanic voters in Texas received written assistance, while 85,000 received oral assistance; and (6) most of the jurisdictions that commented on the need for oral or written assistance said that such assistance was unnecessary.

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