Voter Protection Project 2010

LatinoJustice PRLDEF protected your right to vote during this year’s elections. Our attorneys and staff responded to Spanish-language voter concerns from across the East Coast at a national call center, and were on the ground in several counties ensuring that Latino voters received the access and assistance that they are guaranteed by law.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF attorneys and outreach specialists were on the ground in areas with a history of failing to provide bilingual materials and other assistance to non-English proficient voters as is required by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act. Sections 203 and 4(f)(4) of the Voting Rights Act require that states or jurisdictions with a certain number of language minority speakers must provide assistance and ballots in the language of the "applicable minority group," as well as in the English language.

Attorney Jackson Chin visited polling places in Suffolk County, NY, where the Department of Justice had previously sued to enforce Section 203, and Attorney Diana Sen monitored polling places in Volusia County, FL where LatinoJustice PRLDEF won a lawsuit earlier this year that forced the county to provide bilingual voting assistance and materials at all polls. They were joined on the ground by Associate Counsel Christina Iturralde in Tampa, and Director of Community Engagement John Garcia in Orlando.

Click here for more information on the Language Minority Provisions of the Voting Rights Act

Here are our reports from the field:

Jackson Chin, Suffolk County: Last decade, the U.S. Justice Department initiated litigation in federal court on these grounds against the defendant County; this lawsuit resulted in a Consent Decree, which expired in 2008. We visited 17 polling site locations. Based on our field visits and fact-finding observations, the County and the Suffolk County Board of Elections reasonably complied with their Section 203 obligations under the federal Voting Rights Act. The department’s guidance requires that the County must provide “meaningful access” to the polls and participation to election practices and opportunities by protected language minorities.

John Garcia, Orlando: The day before Election Day I visited with two candidates for public office, representatives from Democracia USA and one representative from project Vote. They informed me of various different precincts in the Orlando/Kissimmee area that needed to be watched and checked for proper ballot information and Spanish language help. On Election Day I visit 11 precincts on my list. I did not see any obvious violations of voting procedures. All 11 precincts had Spanish Language materials and each precinct included a person who spoke Spanish.

Christina Iturralde, Tampa: The day before the election I met with organizers from Democracia USA, including high school volunteers going door to door to get out the vote on the day before the election. The day of the election, I visited several precincts, where I saw no irregularities. During the evening I was at the offices of Democracia USA handling voter reports of difficulties. There were some reports of voter intimidation early in the day by Tea Party supporters who were yelling at voters at precincts in Polk County, a call about a broken voting machine in Palm beach County, and a report that a voter was told that his son was not on the rolls and could not vote.

Diana Sen, Volusia County: I visited polls and asked for a Spanish-language ballot, after identifying myself as a poll monitor. At one location, I was told that there were not any Spanish Language ballots as they were not yet required. Once I mentioned our settlement agreement, the worker went back and found 5 copies. The other Deltona polls were filled with Spanish signs and sample ballots. Precinct #716 in Port Orange had no Spanish-language ballots, while precincts 724 and 733 in Port Orange only had 5 sample ballots.

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