Tuesday, August 16, 2016

U.S. judge blocks Texas law that restricts who can interpret for voters in polling places

On Friday a federal judge blocked a Texas law "that limits the availability of interpreters in polling places, ruling that it violates protections guaranteed by the U.S. Voting Rights Act," Chuck Lindell reports for the Austin American-Stateman. An India-born woman had filed a lawsuit in 2014 after her local polling place refused to allow her son to interpret for her, because he was registered to vote in a different county. A state election law "requires interpreters to be registered to vote in the same county as the person they intend to help."

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman "ruled that the residency requirement violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees voters the right to be helped by a person of their choice if they need assistance because of blindness, disability or inability to read or write," Lindell writes. "To enjoy the same opportunity to vote as other citizens, Pitman wrote, limited-language voters must be able to navigate polling stations and communicate with election officers." He wrote, "They must be able to understand and fill out any required forms, and to understand and to answer any questions directed at them by election officers. And they must be able to do so with the assistance of a person whom they trust.”

Texas also been criticized for its voter ID law, which some say discriminates against immigrants, many of whom are prone to vote Democrat.

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