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An U.S. Election Assistance Commission blog written by EAC Commissioner Thomas Hicks


Language Access Summit: Trends in Election Administration and their Impact on Language Access

Jul 23, 2018

The field of election administration is constantly changing. Recent shifts include growing alternatives to traditional precinct-based voting, such as vote by mail, early voting and vote centers, and increased focus on election technology and the auditability of voting systems

Such changes are often discussed in terms of how they can make election processes more convenient and efficient, or strengthen election integrity and voter confidence. It is also worth considering how such changes can impact voters with limited English proficiency and other language minority voters. 

For example: how would a shift to vote by mail affect voters without a written language or those who rely on remote post office facilities? How would the adoption of vote centers affect a jurisdiction’s ability to recruit bilingual poll workers and target their assistance to language minority voters? Are state election offices offering effective language assistance through their increasingly popular online voter registration websites? Can we reconcile the competing goals of voter verifiability, audit consistency, and secrecy of the ballot when considering how multi-lingual ballots and paper vote records could affect post-election audit procedures?

We will be discussing these and other related topics tomorrow at the third annual Language Access for Voters Summit at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C., organized in partnership with Arizona State University’s Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service and Democracy Fund Voice.  

I am honored to moderate the fourth and final session of the day, “Trends in Election Administration and their Impact on Language Access,” which aims to take the discussion beyond the importance of Section 203 compliance towards expanded approaches to language assistance.

Today, I am pleased to announce the panelists who will join me for this discussion:

  • Matt Beaton, Auditor, Franklin County, Washington
  • Travis Lane, Assistant Director, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
  • Maria Bianchi, Director, Voting Information Project, Democracy Works
  • Lucy Barefoot, Voter Education and Outreach Specialist, Washington Secretary of State
  • Whitney Quesenbery, Co-Director, Center for Civic Design

These experts will examine recent election administration trends through the lens of language access and explore how to anticipate and meet the needs of language minority voters when considering changes to election policy or practice. 

I hope you will join us for this important discussion. The Language Access Summit is free and open to the public and to media. RSVPs are required and space is very limited.  We hope you will join us for this important event.

 

 
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