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February 15, 2012

Contact:  Willard R. Helander


 Spanish Election Materials Required by Voting Rights Act


WAUKEGAN, Illinois - In late 2011, the United States Department of Justice sent a certification letter requiring Lake County to provide complete bilingual election administration in the Spanish language for 2012. This requirement is a result of 2010 U.S. Census data applied to the requirements test under 203 of the Voting Rights Act (42 USC 1973aa-1a).


The first trigger to qualify a jurisdiction under 203 is the response to race and then the language proficiency response on the American Community Survey. When 5% or more of the voting age population respond to the Census as limited English proficient voting age citizens, the bilingual threshold is met.


The protected language groups according to interpretation of the 2006 Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act are Asian (Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Tagalog, etc), Native American and Native Alaskan dialects (not of European origin) and Spanish. The Census Bureau does not consider Arabic an Asian language. Also languages of European origin such as Russian, Polish and Hebrew are not deemed covered languages.


The Lake County Clerk's office is working diligently to comply with the bilingual requirements and to ensure Lake County taxpayers and voters are not at risk for any facet of non-compliance. All election administration materials will be provided in English with Spanish translations as required by the federal law under the Voting Rights Act.


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