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Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act

About Voting Rights Section 203
The right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens of the United States. Many citizens, however, especially those who are recently-naturalized, are not fully proficient in English and, thus, cannot effectively participate in the electoral process. Barriers to understanding voting materials, such as voter registration forms, ballots and complicated referenda issues that appear on ballots, can discourage many citizens from exercising their right to vote.
Congress enacted Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act in 1975. Section 203 requires certain counties and jurisdictions to provide bilingual voting materials in communities with language minorities and limited-English proficient residents. Congress reauthorized and strengthened Section 203 in 1992 to make bilingual assistance at the polls a reality for thousands of additional “language minority” voters and again reauthorized it recently in 2006. By enacting Section 203, Congress recognized that many minority citizens were not exercising their fundamental right to vote due to high illiteracy rates and unequal educational opportunities.
In addition, some citizens are unable to effectively participate in the voting process because of illiteracy, disability, or blindness. Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act provides another valuable resource for voters who face these challenges, by allowing such voters to receive assistance in the voting booth from a person of the voter’s choice. In addition, voters who experience difficulty with the English language and who do not have access to translated election materials can receive assistance in their primary language under Section 208.
For information for how to get in-language materials in areas covered by Section 203, visit the links below.










Associated Programs: 
Voting Rights & Section 203



Section 203 - Bangla


Section 203 - Simple Chinese


Section 203 - Hindi


Section 203 - Japanese


Section 203 - Khmer


Section 203 - Korean


Section 203 - Tagalog


Section 203 - Thai


Section 203 - Vietnamese


Section 203 - Traditional Chinese