April 09, 2010

von Spakovsky Responds to TPM on Foreign Language Voting Materials Controversy

Following up on this post, Hans von Spakovsky sends along the following response via email:

    Your citing of the TPM report on me fails to note its inaccuracies. The claim by TPM that the Electoral Board voted to end the distribution of foreign language voting materials is flat-out wrong: Fairfax County has never provided any voting materials of any kind in any language other than English. Fairfax County is not a Section 203 jurisdiction -- it is not covered by the requirements of that part of the statute. The Board made very clear at its meeting, however, that it would process all voter registration materials received in all languages and that if and when the County became certified under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, it would do everything it needed to do to comply with the statute -- that can be confirmed by the minutes. What was at issue was a proposal to start providing voter registration forms in other languages on a voluntary basis, but only in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean, even though there is no federal or state law requiring Fairfax County to do so. That proposal was not approved. It would, in any case, have been at best problematic and possibly discriminatory, since Fairfax County has a substantial population of individuals who speak Indo-European and other languages (like Arabic) -- yet no proposal was being made to provide translated voter registration materials for those other groups and no such forms are readily available to the staff in those other languages.

Posted by Rick Hasen at April 9, 2010 01:36 PM