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Bilingual Voting Assistance: Selected Jurisdictions' Strategies for Identifying Needs and Providing Assistance

GAO-08-182 Published: Jan 18, 2008. Publicly Released: Jan 18, 2008.
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The Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, contains, among other things, provisions designed to protect the voting rights of U.S. citizens of certain ethnic groups whose command of the English language may be limited. The Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces these provisions, and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) serves as a national clearinghouse for election information and procedures. The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 mandated that GAO study the implementation of bilingual voting under Section 203 of the act. This report discusses (1) the ways that selected jurisdictions covered under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act have provided bilingual voting assistance as of the November 2006 general election and any subsequent elections through June 2007, and the challenges they reportedly faced in providing such assistance; and (2) the perceived usefulness of this bilingual voting assistance, and the extent to which the selected jurisdictions evaluated the usefulness of such assistance to language minority voters. To obtain details about this voting assistance, GAO obtained information from election officials in 14 of the 296 jurisdictions required to provide it, as well as from community representatives in 11 of these jurisdictions. These jurisdictions were selected to reflect a range of characteristics such as geographic diversity and varying language minority groups.

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