During this presidential election year, APALC is working with a number of organizations across California to ensure that Asian American voters have full access to their rights, including their rights to language assistance under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act. In jurisdictions covered by Section 203, voters with limited English proficiency have access to translated voting materials, such as voter registration forms and ballot materials, and bilingual election officials at polling places on Election Day.
In October 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new list of jurisdictions covered by Section 203. Driven by population growth as reflected in census data, Asian American populations in eight California counties are now entitled to receive language assistance during elections. For example, Los Angeles County will now be providing language assistance to Asian Indian, Cambodian and Thai American voters, in addition to Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese American voters.
APALC is working with Asian Law Caucus and other community organizations across the state to carry out an advocacy and poll monitoring project with the goal of ensuring that Asian American voters receive adequate language assistance during the 2012 election cycle. The advocacy work focuses on helping county election officials to understand the needs of limited English proficient Asian American voters. APALC and its partners are working with election officials to implement best practices with respect to translations of voting materials, recruitment and training of poll workers, and efforts to increase voters’ awareness of language assistance.
APALC and the organizations participating in this project also will carry out poll monitoring efforts during the June primary and November general elections. APALC trains volunteers and sends them to poll sites across Los Angeles and Orange Counties to make sure that limited English proficient voters have adequate access to language assistance. Based on the poll monitoring observations, APALC will prepare reports recommending changes to election practices to promote ballot access for immigrant and limited English proficient voters. To get involved with APALC’s poll monitoring efforts, please contact Eugene Lee at [email protected].
Additionally, APALC and Asian Law Caucus, along with the other members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, Asian American Institute in Chicago and Asian American Justice Center in Washington, DC, have released a Section 203 advocacy manual and conducted a series of webinars on Section 203 advocacy and poll monitoring.
California Counties Covered by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act
Counties and Asian American Populations Receiving Assistance Under Section 203
Alameda: Chinese, Filipino,* Vietnamese*
Los Angeles: Asian Indian,* Cambodian,* Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Thai,* Vietnamese
Orange: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese
San Diego: Chinese,* Filipino, Vietnamese*
San Francisco: Chinese
San Mateo: Chinese
Santa Clara: Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese
* Asian American populations marked with an asterisk are newly covered under Section 203 as a result of the U.S. Census Bureau’s October 2011 determination. Los Angeles County is covered for Other Asian – Not specified; the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is providing assistance to Cambodian and Thai American voters to implement this requirement.