ATLANTA — Common Cause Georgia is calling on Congress to pass the address barriers to the elections process that many non-English speakers face in Georgia.
The Expanding the VOTE Act was introduced on Sept. 2 by U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta has 140 co-sponsors to date, and was approved on a bipartisan vote by the House Judiciary Committee on September 21. The bill would strengthen the Voting Rights Act and provide local elections offices with funding to translate critical election-related information in the languages needed by voters.
Language access is an issue for many with 14% of Georgians over the age of five speaking a language other than English at home, according to the U.S. Census.
In 2020, Gwinnett County election officials failed to provide election-related information including absentee ballot applications in Spanish, despite requirement under the Voting Rights Act to do so. Common Cause Georgia joined other voting rights groups in seeking legal action against Gwinnett County and the Georgia Board of Elections for disenfranchising thousands of Spanish-speaking voters.
That lawsuit was later dismissed on procedural reasons, but the barriers facing voters who need resources in languages other than English continue.
Statement from Aunna Dennis, Common Cause Georgia’s Executive Director
Our democracy works best when we all are heard at the ballot box, regardless of the language we speak.
But there are too many instances where eligible voters are effectively shut out of the elections process because needed materials aren’t provided in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin, Haitian Creole or other languages spoken in the homes of fellow Georgians.
Georgia’s elected members of Congress need to join Rep. Williams and work to fix this injustice by passing the Expanding the VOTE Act. This bill would make it easier for eligible voters, no matter the language they speak, to understand the elections process and cast a ballot for policies that affect their family, friends, and community.