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The Bilingual Ballot


Hispanics need to participate fully in this election season. Thankfully, ours is a country based on the rule of law.  This principle was followed in our county when, in August of 2010,  the Board of Elections of Cuyahoga County entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice to provide a bilingual ballot in Spanish.


The basis for that agreement was Section 4 (E) of the Voting Rights Act which guarantees Puerto Ricans, United States citizens, the right to vote.  The courts have consistently held that a translated ballot is integral to casting an effective vote.  The Board of Elections entered into a consent decree consistent with well-established law.  Since that agreement, there has been a bilingual ballot in Cuyahoga County.

José C. Feliciano, Esq.


Under a different provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1975, states, counties and political subdivisions are required to supply versions of ballots and election materials in other languages if a Latino, Asian-American, American Indiana or Alaskan minority group makes up more than 5 percent of the voting-age population or at least 10,000 citizens. 


Notwithstanding many still question the bilingual ballot in Northern Ohio.  What many do not know is that, according to the Census Bureau, 248 counties and political divisions in 25 states in the United States have also provided election materials in 68 different languages in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act.  The result, surely, is a greater exercise by U.S. citizens of their sacred right to vote, not the demise of our great Republic.


In sum, the courts have consistently held that a translated ballot is integral to casting an effective vote.  Cuyahoga County is meeting its legal obligations and ensuring that all U.S. citizens get their opportunity to vote.  As Chairman of the Hispanic Roundtable, I applaud the county for taking steps to empower the Hispanic community to become part of the solution through self-help and self-determination. 


As my daughter, Marisa, asked me when we were discussing these matters, “How can anyone be against voting?”  To be sure, Hispanics have a historic opportunity to give voice to our community.


José C. Feliciano, Esq.
Chairman, Hispanic Roundtable
1900 E. 9th Street, Suite 3200
Cleveland, Ohio  44114
[email protected]

Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/13/12 05:14:39 -0800.





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