WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Sept. 2, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) introduced H.R. 8770, or the Expanding the Voluntary Opportunities for Translations in Elections Act, a bill focused on voting access for individuals with limited English-language proficiency. Along with Williams, the legislation was led by Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Raul Ruiz, (D-Calif.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas). In total, 125 House Democrats are currently co-sponsoring the legislation.
H.R. 8770 strengthens several provisions of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), provides federal grants to help jurisdictions distribute translated voting materials and creates a government study on the impact of “covered” language minority groups under the VRA and the potential to expand that designation to more languages. “Our democracy requires every voice be heard on Election Day,” explained Williams in a press release. “But far too often, similar voters across the country are unable to participate in our democracy due to English-only election materials. That is why Congress must make voting materials accessible for every constituent.”