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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Justice Department Reaches Agreement to Protect the Rights of Spanish-Speaking Voters in Napa County, California

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with Napa County, California, to ensure compliance with provisions of the Voting Rights Act that require the county to provide bilingual election materials and information in Spanish to voters.

The Voting Rights Act requires that jurisdictions determined by the Census Bureau to have a substantial population of minority-language citizens with limited English proficiency, such as Napa County, provide voting materials and assistance in the minority language as well as in English.

“The right to vote forms the foundation of our democracy, and language barriers should never keep eligible voters from accessing that right,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “This agreement ensures that Napa County’s eligible Spanish-speaking voters can access the election process and participate in our democracy by casting effective ballots.  The Justice Department commends Napa County for resolving the issue quickly and cooperatively.”              

The agreement with Napa County requires implementation of a comprehensive Spanish language elections program for the county’s Spanish-speaking limited English proficient voters.  Under the terms of the agreement, the county will disseminate bilingual election-related information, materials and announcements.  Napa County will also ensure that Spanish-language assistance is available at all locations where election-related transactions are conducted, including polling places and voter assistance centers.

Napa County already has hired a bilingual elections coordinator to assist in implementing the Spanish language elections program.  The county has also established an advisory group of interested community members and organizations to assist the county in determining how to most effectively provide election information and assistance to Spanish-speaking voters.  To assist in ensuring the effectiveness of the agreement’s bilingual assistance procedures, the agreement provides that Justice Department election monitors may monitor during training and early voting as well as on Election Day.

To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, voters may contact the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931 or at voting.section@usdoj.gov.  Complaints can also be filed online here.

More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting rights laws are available on the Justice Department’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.

Napa County Memorandum of Agreement

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
Updated June 1, 2016