Document Type



As the diversity of the United States voting population has increased, many have debated how American political and legal structures can best incorporate citizens with limited English proficiency ("LEP") into the electoral system. Some argue that government-provided language accommodations are necessary to ensure that all citizens can exercise their right to vote. Others expect that all citizens should be sufficiently proficient in English if they choose to vote, or should rely on their families, linguistic communities, or political campaigns for assistance. This Article argues for the necessity of accommodations that reach all LEP voters and incorporate them into the electoral system. It offers a detailed critique of current federal and state accommodationist policies and proposes a flexible legal infrastructure to address existing inadequacies in government protections. The proposed model—assistance by federally certified translators, increased involvement of LEP community groups and organizations in determining the extent of coverage under federal law, and improved enforcement of court orders by federal courts—is an attempt to seek accommodations that are tailored to serve all voters who require language assistance in order to act as equal participants in our American democracy.