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Philadelphia Takes Steps to Comply with Language Access Provision of the Voting Rights Act

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Philadelphia Takes Steps to Comply with Language Access Provision of the Voting Rights Act

Location: 
New York, NY

Contact: Christiaan Perez, cperez@latinojustice.org, 212-739-7581

New York, NY – Last week, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and CEIBA Philadelphia sent a letter to the Philadelphia City Solicitor delineating how the city was in violation Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, a federal law that mandates, in certain jurisdictions, that all information that is provided to voters in English be provided in other languages to voters who are limited English proficient. In Philadelphia, Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act covers Spanish speakers. Recognizing their mistake, Philadelphia is taking immediate steps to rectify their failure to comply with the law. Below is a selection of some of the steps that Philadelphia is taking in order to comply with the language access requirement during this election:

  1. Conduct targeted outreach to Spanish language media to help them inform the Spanish speaking audience about their rights at the ballot box.
  2. Provide informational brochures in Spanish at all polling locations informing the community about how to exercise their voting rights.
  3. Commit to arranging meetings with groups who serve the Spanish speaking community to ensure equitable access to the electoral process for Spanish speaking voters.

“Philadelphia’s response shows how local governments can work with community-based groups to promptly address a shortcoming in their electoral process and provide the necessary assistance as required by federal law. We applaud the City of Philadelphia for taking such prompt action and look forward to working with them further to ensure that Spanish speaking voters can fully participate in the electoral process,” said Jorge Luis Vásquez Jr., Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRDLEF

"Better communication and planning between the City Commissioners Office and the Spanish speaking community would have helped Philadelphia comply with a federal law that guarantees one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy. We are disappointed with what happened in this election but are hopeful that all things will be in place to ensure equal access for Spanish speakers in the 2020 elections," stated Will Gonzalez, the Executive Director of Ceiba.

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LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org.

Ceiba is a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that promotes the economic development and financial inclusion of the Latino community through collaborations and advocacy aimed at ensuring their access to quality housing. For more information about Ceiba, visit: Ceibaphiladelphia.org