WASHINGTON – On Friday, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) led 118 of her House Democratic colleagues in introducing the Expanding the Voluntary Opportunities for Translations in Elections Act (Expanding the VOTE Act). This legislation supports jurisdictions in their efforts to help everyone vote, no matter their English-language proficiency.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams, a Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus said:
“English-only elections are modern-day literacy tests, plain and simple. Our democracy requires every voice be heard on Election Day. We saw how powerful that is in the 2020 election when a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition showed up to vote in Georgia and changed the history of America. But far too often, similar voters across the country are unable to participate in our democracy due to English-only election materials. That is why Congress must make voting materials accessible for every constituent. The Expanding the VOTE Act will remove barriers to the ballot box so everyone can participate in our democracy—no matter your ZIP Code, no matter what language you speak.”
Joining Congresswoman Williams in leading this legislation are Reps. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Judy Chu (CA-27), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Marc Veasey (TX-33), and Terri A. Sewell (AL-07).
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Dr. Raul Ruiz said:
“Our democracy is strongest when every voice can be heard. With over 41.7 million Spanish-speakers in the United States, it is crucial that we ensure that election materials are accessible for all. That is why, as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), I support the Expanding the VOTE Act to empower jurisdictions to meet the language needs of their populations, including Latinos.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said:
“Over the years we have seen a tremendous increase in AAPI voter turnout – and it is encouraging to see members of our community showing up in droves to the ballot box and making their voices heard. However, for many, including the one-third of the AAPI community that is limited English proficient (LEP), language barriers create additional challenges and can often deter individuals from participating in our democracy. The Expanding the VOTE Act would strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by ensuring jurisdictions have the resources needed to meet the language needs of every community. Congress has a duty to act to further bolster democratic participation and protect this foundational right bestowed to every American citizen.”
The Expanding the VOTE Act is endorsed by the following organizations: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Let America Vote/End Citizens United Action Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Native American Rights Fund, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters of the United States, National Urban League, Common Cause, Demos, National Action Network, Fair Fight Action, People For the American Way, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Spread the Vote, When We All Vote, Sojourners, GALEO, Latino Community Fund – GA, Asian American Advocacy Fund
Fair Fight Action Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid said:
“Fair Fight Action continues to promote common sense solutions to ensure every eligible American has the opportunity to make their voice heard in free and fair elections. That is why we are proud to support Georgia voting rights champion Congresswoman Nikema Williams’ Expanding the VOTE Act to provide critical voting resources and investment to expand access to the ballot box for voters from all walks of life. It is more important than ever that we have robust electoral infrastructure to strengthen our democracy and protect our freedom to vote.”
Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza, Latino Community Fund Georgia Executive Director said:
“We at the LCF Georgia welcome and support any efforts that expand and facilitate access for citizens to exercise their right to cast a ballot in any election. We are excited to learn that the Expanding the VOTE Act will support local jurisdictions to go beyond the minimum requirements of Section 203 and truly provide a welcoming and strong environment for diverse citizens to participate in democracy. The true story of many of us, is the determination to actively participate in civic life in spite of barriers and obstacles. The Expanding the VOTE Act is an intentional effort to make participation accessible to all citizens of this great country.”
GALEO Impact Fund Director of Policy and Advocacy, David Garcia said:
“Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act is an essential remedy to address both past and ongoing discrimination against limited-English-proficient voters in our political process. Since 1975, Section 203 has helped language minorities in becoming more informed voters and more effective participants in our representative democracy. The Expanding the VOTE Act strengthens Section 203 by providing additional resources and support for LEP voters and election administrators. GALEO Impact Fund strongly endorses the Expanding the VOTE Act.”
Leslie Proll, Senior Director for Voting Rights at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said:
“The Expanding the VOTE Act addresses the formidable barriers to the ballot box that voters with limited English proficiency face. Everyone, regardless of English language proficiency, deserves to participate fully in our democracy. Jurisdictions providing language assistance empower voters and ensure they have one less hurdle to make their voices heard on election day.”
Click here for the text of the Expanding the VOTE Act.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District. Congresswoman Williams serves on the exclusive Financial Services Committee where she is Vice Chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Select Committee for the Modernization of Congress. She is Freshman Class President and Co-Chairs the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as a champion of voting rights, closing the racial wealth gap, and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of their ZIP code or bank account.