Texas Counties Put on Notice for Violations of Voting Rights Act Requirements

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
September 3, 2020 10:15 am

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HOUSTON – The ACLU of Texas today sent demand letters to 16 Texas counties flagging possible violations of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide information about voting or elections in accurate Spanish.

Current law requires any information about voting or elections to be provided in English and Spanish in counties where the voting age population has more than 10,000 Spanish speakers with limited English proficiency, or such individuals are more than 5 percent of the voting-age population.

“Accurately translated materials are critical to protecting Texans’ right to vote,” said Edgar Saldivar, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “We’re hoping that addressing the inaccuracies well in advance of the election will allow counties ample time to correct the misinformation. Counties need to do their part to protect the most fundamental right in our democracy.”

ACLU of Texas attorneys found a total of 69 counties had inadequate or inaccessible information in Spanish, had poor or misleading translations, or offered no voting information in Spanish at all. The 16 top offenders will be getting letters this week urging them to hastily correct their errors. For example, Refugio County uses a translation tool that translates Party Chair to Presidente de Fiesta” instead of “Partido.” Some counties also translated the term “runoff” election as election “leak” or “drainage.”

The other counties that do not have pertinent information in Spanish – including voter identification information, key voting dates, voter registration information, and applications for ballot by mail and absentee voting – will be receiving letters soon thereafter.

The 16 counties who received letters today include: Atascosa, Bailey, Brooks, Calhoun, Floyd, Hockley, La Salle, Lynn, Martin, Reeves, Tarrant, Terry, Titus, Upton, Webb and Zavala.

A copy of the letters is available here: https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/vra_voting_material_letters.pdf

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