Lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) challenging Union County, New Jersey’s failure to provide adequate assistance, information and election materials to Spanish-speaking voters. The DOJ alleges that the county’s failure to provide adequate information to Union County’s voters with limited English proficiency, violates Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which requires that certain jurisdictions “provide Spanish-language written materials, information, and assistance to voters” with limited English proficiency. Additionally, the DOJ claims that by prohibiting voters with limited English proficiency from obtaining “assistance from the assistors of their choice,” the county is in violation of Section 208 of the VRA, which allows voters who require assistance with voting — due to inability to read or write, blindness or disability — to receive assistance from the person of their choice.
On May 9, 2023, the parties entered into a consent decree that requires the implementation of a “comprehensive Spanish-language elections program under Section 203.” Under the agreement, the “Union County Clerk and Board of Elections will provide all election-related information in both English and Spanish, including information in the polling places and online.” Additionally, the “Union County Board of Elections will also ensure that in-person language assistance is available at all early voting sites and at each election district with at least 100 Spanish-surnamed registered voters.” The consent decree will also ensure that voters will be able to seek assistance from a person of their choice if needed under Section 208 of the VRA. Finally, the consent decree “provides that federal observers may monitor election day activities in polling places in Union County.” On June 13, 2023, the judge approved the consent decree.