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Voting Rights Coalition Succeeds in Making In-Language Resources Available for Spanish Speakers in Liberty County, GA

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 5th, 2021

CONTACT: Elianne Ramos, [email protected]

 

Voting Rights Coalition Succeeds in Making In-Language Resources Available for Spanish Speakers in Liberty County, GA

New York, NY – As Georgia voters make their voices heard in the state’s January 5th run-off elections, Spanish speaking voters in Liberty County have been able, for the first time, to obtain in-language resources. This historic development was made possible by the advocacy of the Dear Georgia, It’s Time campaign and advocacy of several voting rights organizations, including LatinoJustice, PRLDEF, Poder Latinx, GALEO, Hispanic Federation, LCF-GA, the Advancement Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and Demos.

OnDecember 11, 2020, the organizations sent a letter to the Liberty County Board of Elections urging them to make language-appropriate voting materials available to Spanish-dominate Puerto Rican voters.  On December 31, 2020 the organizations asked Liberty County to follow the lead of Cobb County and Dekalb County by providing the translated  sample ballot that Dekalb had already created, and to advertise an existing nonpartisan language access hotline until the day of run-off elections.  

Thanks to the coalition’s and county’s efforts, limited English proficient voters in Liberty County currently have access to translated sample ballots, information, and interpretation services in Spanish. The county also maintains a Spanish-speaking staff person at the Elections Office who is available to translate for voters. 

“This is a wonderful example of county officials, community members, and voting rights advocates working together to dismantle barriers to voting.  Congress specifically passed Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to assist Puerto Rican voters and stop the discriminatory nature of English-only elections,” said Miranda Galindo, Senior Counsel at LatinoJustice. “This law requires elections officials to provide Spanish-language ballots, voter registration services, other election materials, and bilingual poll workers to assist voters educated in Puerto Rico with limited English proficiency. We applaud Liberty County for taking immediate action to assist Spanish-dominant Puerto Rican voters in time for today’s runoff election.  We look forward to continuing our collaboration to make voting fully accessible for the growing Puerto Rican community in Liberty County in future elections.”

LaVita Tuff, Policy Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, who led language access advocacy efforts in DeKalb and Cobb counties for officially translated voting resources in Spanish and Korean added: “We are heartened to see our success in expanding language access for voters during the Nov. 3rd general election continue to bear fruit. Liberty County's decision to follow in DeKalb's footsteps in providing language access will be critical for voters in need of in-language materials. Language should not be the barrier to voting. This victory for voters fuels our resolve to ensure every last voter in every last county in Georgia has fair access to voting."

There is a growing community of Spanish-dominant Puerto Rican voters living in Liberty County. Having access to voting information and resources in their language ensures their voices are heard in such a critical point in the state’s election history. 

“Advancement Project National Office is proud to join these groups in advocating for Puerto Rican voters, and is glad to see Liberty County’s willingness to ensure that these voters are able to cast a meaningful ballot in their dominant language. Puerto Rican’s by birth are U.S. Citizens and it is wonderful to see Liberty County treat Spanish-dominant Puerto Rican voters with the same rights as other citizens,” said Jorge Luis Vásquez, Jr. Project Director, Power and Democracy Program at Advancement Project National Office.

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About LatinoJustice

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.