By all voting is local

March 11, 2024

A core part of All Voting is Local’s mission is to remove barriers that make it more difficult for people to vote. One of the common barriers we see across the eight states we work in is the limited number of languages in which voter materials are published. For voters whose primary language is not English, this can be a significant obstacle to overcome, particularly when it comes to trying to understand voter registration guidelines, mail-in voting, and ballot measures. All Voting’s state teams work with our partners to bring these materials to voters, both by advocating for state and local governments to provide them, as well as creating and publishing them ourselves in some cases.

The 2020 census ranked Nevada as the third-most diverse state in the country, however, only two counties in the state are required by Sec. 203 of the Voting Rights Act to provide voting materials in a language other than English: Clark (Spanish and Tagalog) and Nye (Shoshone). All Voting’s team in Nevada created a long-term advocacy campaign alongside community partners to ensure equitable access to voting information for voters whose primary language is not English. This included the creation of a Spanish and English language access fact sheet in 2022  to educate elected officials and election administrators on why non-English voting materials are so important in Nevada, as well as to offer policy suggestions and solutions. In 2022, we also worked with our partners at the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC) to create a Chinese language voter guide, and in 2024, our joint efforts successfully led to Clark County voluntarily providing translated materials in Chinese (Mandarin as written) expanding access for almost 10,000 voters. Thanks to All Voting and our partners’ hard work, the Nevada Secretary of State has a language access landing page on their website with voting information in Spanish, Tagalog, and American Sign Language that includes information on voter registration, mail ballot and in-person voting, a voter bill of rights, and frequently asked questions.

In Pennsylvania, All Voting works alongside partners throughout the Commonwealth to ensure that language is not a barrier to the ballot. This is especially important for historically disenfranchised voters, such as First Nations people, New Americans, and people who were educated in US-occupied territories. In 2022, All Voting and our partners successfully got the city of Philadelphia to triple the amount of languages in which it issues voting materials. Election materials such as polling place signs and ballot questions became available in Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Haitian-Creole, among other languages. In a city as big and diverse as Philadelphia, this expanded access to the ballot for many voters.

In 2023, All Voting is Local Arizona worked with tribal nations, election officials, and advocacy partners to ensure that all voters have access to the ballot, regardless of their primary spoken language. Throughout the state’s Election Procedure Manual review and public comment period, the All Voting team advocated for the inclusion of voter materials in languages other than English, including many Native languages such as Apache, Hopi, and Navajo. In addition to advocating for materials to be prepared in a variety of written languages, All Voting, along with our partners, worked to ensure that the Election Procedures Manual required election officials in key counties to provide both written and oral translation support for historically unwritten, oral language-speaking voters. This language access support requires county recorders to provide onsite translators in addition to written materials for voters. 

Despite nearly one-third of its population having a primary language other than English, Florida law lacks any requirements for uniform access to voters who have a different primary language. All 67 of Florida’s counties have different language access provisions, and voters are often not afforded the same level of language resources or assistance they need across the state. Along with partners, the All Voting team in Florida works hand-in-hand with local election officials to advocate for the creation of voting materials, such as voting guides and ballot questions, in a variety of languages. One of these materials is a bilingual introductory guide to democracy, which we published in 2024, after we released similar guides in English, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese in 2023. Our affiliated organization, All Voting is Local Action, has advocated for the introduction of language access bills in the state legislature for two years in a row. Although these bills have not passed, the AVL Action team will continue to push for statewide guidelines to ensure equal access to voting materials in people’s primary languages.