Napa Introducing Bilingual Voting Materials, Poll Workers to Avoid Legal Scuffle With Feds

Napa County officials have struck an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over how it ensures ease of voting access to its Spanish-only speaking residents. The county will now implement a series of changes, including the creation of bilingual voting materials and the placement of Spanish translators at every one of its polling centers.

The agreement was announced Wednesday under threat of a lawsuit from the Department's Election Division. In April, the Feds warned Napa that it was in violation of the Voting Rights Act and would face legal action if it failed to comply.

The county currently provides either Spanish or English ballots to its voters, but the agreement will facilitate distribution of dual-language ballots instead. According to County Registrar John Tuteur, this will make Napa the first county in the North Bay to do so. The changes won't be implemented in time for the June 7 primary but must be completed prior to the elections in November.

There are 86,960 voting-age residents in Napa County. 2010 Census figures put the number of those with limited English proficiency at 4,510.

Read more about the agreement here.

Image Credit: Flickr User whiteafrican, via (CC BY 2.0)