Ensuring that Florida's Language Minorities Have Access to the Ballot
34 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2009
The population of Florida today is markedly different from the population of Florida of one hundred, fifty, or even twenty years ago. Florida’s population is now much larger and much more heavily concentrated in the southern and central regions of the state. There is a much larger and more diverse Hispanic population, as well as a sizable and growing Haitian-American population. Consequently, more Floridians than ever before live in linguistically isolated households where there is no English-proficient member. There is great need to adopt an approach to language-minority ballot access that adequately addresses the needs of Florida’s growing language-minority population.
In certain instances, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provides some protections and requires some assistance for some language minorities. This Article illustrates the importance of strict compliance with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act for language minorities in Florida. However, as this Article demonstrates, there are also sizable gaps in the scope of the Act’s protections for language minorities. After analysis, this Article proposes practical solutions that elections officials can use to fill in the gaps when the Voting Rights Act falls short of ensuring equal access to the ballot for all of Florida’s citizens.
Keywords: Florida, language minority, ballot access, voting rights
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