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Saturday, September 5, 2020
L.A. County Receives Nearly 70,000 Requests for Non-English Language Ballots
Nearly 70,000 voters in Los Angeles County submitted requests to receive election materials, including Vote by Mail ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election, in a language other than English, in response to a recent county mailer, according to Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan.
Registered voters can still request to receive their election materials in one of 18 different languages by calling 800-815-2666, option 3, he said.
“In a jurisdiction with an electorate as richly diverse as Los Angeles County, it is essential that voters are aware they have options to receive election materials and their Vote by Mail ballot in their preferred language,” Logan said. “It’s critical for civic participation, and the response to this mailer by close to 70,000 voters is a strong response to our voter outreach and education efforts.”
In late July, the RR/CC also issued a notice that all registered voters will be mailed a Vote by Mail ballot to ensure a safe and accessible voting option during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sending a Vote by Mail ballot to every voter is a critical step for voter access in 2020, but it means that millions of California voters will lose that moment when a poll worker asks them what language they would like their ballot in,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause.
“Mailers like L.A. County’s help ensure language stands as a barrier to the ballot for as few voters as possible,” he said. “Every county in the state should use their remaining mailings, before Vote by Mail ballots go out, to share language access information.”
In 2006, federal legislation was passed to extend the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and any county with more than 10,000 residents whose native language is not English and who indicated on their U.S. Census form a lack of proficiency in English is required to provide election materials in the identified languages.
Logan said a language is also covered by the VRA as mandatory for the county’s translated election materials if more than 5% of the citizens of voting age are members of a single language minority and have limited English proficiency.
Los Angeles County provides fully translated voting materials in Armenian, Chinese, Cambodian/Khmer, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Thai and Russian. Additionally, facsimile ballots are available upon request in Burmese, Telugu, Gujarti, Indonesian, Mongolian and Bengali.
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