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Report: Statewide Investigation on Voting Rights and Language Access

September 26, 2023 Guides & Reports

Breaking Barriers to the Ballot Box: Expanding Language Access for California Voters

First of its kind report provides a roadmap to ensure all voters, regardless of their English language proficiency, can vote fairly and equally

Our democracy is under real and urgent threat, from rampant disinformation and a surge in voter suppression legislation to politicians deliberately sowing distrust in election outcomes in order to maintain their own power. And while the state of California and counties in California have adopted various pro-democracy voting practices and procedures, reforms such as vote-by-mail ballots and ballot drop boxes are only beneficial if voters receive election materials in a language they understand.

We've released this report with our partners in the California Language Access Workgroup, a coalition of civil rights and civic engagement organizations who have been investigating language access issues for voters around the state. The report explores four key aspects of language access in California elections: the voting experience, federal and state laws, the importance of in-language materials, and data limitations for identifying populations in California who use non-English languages.

The report includes a series of recommendations for California to create an inclusive democracy, including:

  • Providing comprehensive language assistance to large groups in languages beyond Spanish, Asian, and Native American languages
  • Providing votable ballots and registration forms in the languages used and preferred by smaller communities
  • Dedicating county-specific web pages with translated election information
  • Adding additional languages to the existing toll-free statewide interpretation hotline

This report is authored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California, AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), California Common Cause, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NALEO Educational Fund, and Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA).

Language Access Factsheets