Georgia’s 6.9 Million Active Voters Received the English-Only Version in the Mass Mailing
Washington, DC (April 7, 2020) – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a letter to the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, and the Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections demanding that they immediately remedy the failure to include the Spanish language version of the state’s absentee ballot applications in the mass mailing of the English-only version of the form to Gwinnett County’s limited English proficient, Spanish speaking voters last week. The letter was sent on behalf of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO); Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda (People’s Agenda); Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta (Advancing Justice); New Georgia Project (NGP) and Common Cause.
Gwinnett County’s limited English proficient, Spanish speaking voters have the right to receive Spanish language election materials, including voting forms such as the absentee ballot application, under Sections 203 and 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The failure to send the Spanish language version of the form violates these minority language access provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
“Gwinnett County’s Spanish speaking voters were completely ignored and left behind when the Georgia Secretary of State mailed the English-only version of the form to Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters last week,” said Julie Houk, managing counsel for Election Protection at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Due to the risk of in-person voting posed as a result of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, equal access to absentee voting for Gwinnett County’s Spanish speaking voters is incredibly important, if not potentially life-saving.”
There is also no Spanish language version of the form available for download from the Secretary of State’s website. Should Spanish speaking voters seek to access this form online in Gwinnett County, the Spanish language version of the form is buried on the Gwinnett County Elections’ website. The prompt to get to the Spanish version does not say “Español.” Instead, voters need to find and click on a box marked “English >” at the bottom of the page. This virtually guarantees that most voters searching for the Spanish language version will experience great difficulty finding the form on the website. Gwinnett County’s Spanish language version, again found by clicking the box at the bottom of the page, is also not an accurate translation of the English version of the state’s form.
Unless the Secretary of State and Gwinnett County take immediate action to remedy the violation of Sections 203 and 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act, Gwinnett County’s limited English proficient, Spanish speaking voters will not receive the Spanish language assistance they require to effectively cast an absentee ballot in the upcoming election. Nor will they receive the advantages conferred upon the state’s English speaking voters with the mass mailing of the English-only version of the form by the Secretary of State’s office.
To read the letter, click here.