DAILYKENN.com -- Latino hate groups are threatening to take Georgia counties to court to force them to provide Spanish-language ballots.
Gwinnett County is the cite of the ongoing battle.
The Board of Registrations and Elections voted 4-1 against the request, reports say.
859,304 people live in the county that is located northeast of Atlanta.
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If the Latino hate groups prevail in court, other counties across the nation will be forced to provide multi-lingual ballots with taxpayers picking up the tab.
There are currently about 6,500 languages in use.
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Gwinnett County on Tuesday rejected a request that it provide Spanish-language ballots for this year’s elections, setting up a possible showdown in federal court.
Two Latino rights groups requested the ballots, citing a provision of the federal Voting Rights Act. But the Gwinnett Board of Registrations and Elections voted 4-1 against the request.
Chair Alice O’Lenick said the county doesn’t have enough information to determine on its own whether it should provide bilingual ballots and voting materials. She said the board must wait for direction from the state or federal officials or a court.
“If a judge says do this, we’ll do it,” she said.
Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), said his group will pursue the matter in court.
“We wanted to avoid litigation,” Gonzalez said after the vote. “The vote sends a clear signal that Gwinnett County doesn’t embrace diversity and doesn’t respect the Voting Rights Act.”
In October, GALEO and New York-based LatinoJustice asked Gwinnett and Hall counties to provide the bilingual voting materials. The groups cited a provision of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires governments to make Spanish-language ballots available to those Puerto Ricans who have difficulty reading English.
Puerto Ricans are American citizens, but Spanish is the dominant language spoken on the island. The law is designed to ensure they can vote without difficulty if they move to the mainland United States.
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there are more than 13,000 people of Puerto Rican descent in Gwinnett and 900 in Hall. The federal law does not specify a minimum number of affected Puerto Ricans that would trigger the provision.
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