Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) Dean C. Logan announced Sept. 3 that nearly 70,000 voters responded to a recent countywide mailing and submitted requests to receive election materials – including their Vote by Mail ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election – in a language other than English.
“Sending a Vote by Mail ballot to every voter is a critical step for voter access in 2020, but it means that millions of California voters will lose that moment when a poll worker asks them what language they would like their ballot in. Mailers like L.A. County’s help ensure language stands as a barrier to the ballot for as few voters as possible,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause. “Every county in the state should use their remaining mailings, before Vote by Mail ballots go out, to share language access information.”
In late July, the RR/CC mailed a notice to all registered voters with new information that all registered voters will be mailed a Vote by Mail ballot to ensure a safe and accessible voting option during COVID-19. Included in the notice was a postage-paid Language Request Form with simple return instructions for any voter who would prefer to receive their materials and ballot in a language other than English.
“In a jurisdiction with an electorate as richly diverse as Los Angeles County, it is essential that voters are aware they have options to receive election materials and their Vote by Mail ballot in their preferred language,” said Logan. “It’s critical for civic participation and the response to this mailer by close to 70,000 voters is a strong response to our voter outreach and education efforts.”
In 2006, federal legislation passed, extending the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. Any county with more than 10,000 residents whose native language is not English and who indicated on their U.S. Census form a lack of proficiency in English is required to provide election materials in the identified languages.
A language is covered by the VRA as mandatory for the county’s translated election materials if (1) more than 5% of the citizens of voting age are members of a single language minority and are limited English proficient or (2) more than 10,000 of the citizens of voting age are members of a single language minority and are limited English proficient.
Los Angeles County provides fully translated voting materials in Armenian, Chinese, Cambodian/Khmer, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Thai and Russian. Additionally, facsimile ballots are available upon request in Burmese, Telugu, Gujarti, Indonesian, Mongolian and Bengali.
Registered voters can still request to receive their election materials in one of 18 different languages by calling 800-815-2666, Option 3.
The mission of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is to serve Los Angeles County by providing essential records management and election services in a fair, accessible and transparent manner. For more information, visit http://lavote.net and follow RR/CC on Twitter @LACountyRRCC.