Washington: The Justice Department has reached a settlement with a New Jersey county over language barriers for Spanish-speaking voters, emphasizing a growing challenge for certain minority communities nationwide.
The agreement with Union County comes after federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit alleging it failed to make registration and voting notices, forms, instructions and ballots available in Spanish, violating sections of the federal Voting Rights Act.
“We know firsthand how language barriers hurt our community,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, chief executive of Mi Familia Vota, a national group seeking to boost Latino political influence. “Eliminating language barriers is not only legally sound but also the right thing to do to strengthen our democracy.”
The county, which has nearly 28,000 Spanish-speaking citizens of voting age, will be required to print all election materials in English and Spanish, and ensure that someone is available to assist Spanish-speaking voters in person. It also will have to assist voters with disabilities, who have long been overlooked in the fight for access to the polls.