“Thousands of Iowa citizens have been denied their right to have election material, including the ballot, in other languages,” says Joe Henry, a member of LULAC’s Iowa board of directors.
Under federal guidelines, Tama County offers voting materials in the Meskwaki language and Buena Vista County has translated documents in Spanish. LULAC has filed a formal request, asking the secretary of state to allow voting materials be made available statewide in Spanish, Burmese and other languages.
“This should not be difficult for the secretary of state to acknowledge the right of Iowans who are U.S. citizens to have voting material, election material in other languages,”
If that doesn’t happen, Henry says the group may go to court.
“If our rights are not acknowledged, then we will go to court to demand justice,” Henry says. “…We hope that the secretary of state…realizes that our rights have not been upheld. They’ve been held hostage.”
The Iowa secretary of state’s office previously allowed translated voting materials throughout the state, but changed the practice in 2008. A district court judge ruled that voter registration forms offered in other languages conflicted with the state’s so-called “English Only” law requiring government business be conducted in English. Henry says that interpretation conflicts with the constitutional right to vote and he says the ruling should have been appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.
A spokesman for Iowa’s secretary of state says the office “will follow the process outlined in state law” as it reviews LULAC’s request for administration action.