October 22's Fact of the Week

While the right to vote is a fundamental right, voting had been largely restricted in the Asian American community until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Act prohibited racial discrimination in voting and banned literacy tests (and other discriminatory registration and voting practices), easing political participation to include limited English proficient voters. None would be excluded from voting based on color, race, or membership in a language minority group. However, when in 1975 and then 1982 Congress amended the Act to provide bilingual registration forms and election ballots in those jurisdictions where the language minority constituted at least 5 percent of the voting-age population, Asian Americans often could not satisfy the 5 percent minimum. Even where Asian Americans constituted over 5 percent, often times they did not constitute a single-language minority, but a diverse group of nationalities and languages. Obstacles that continue to ensue today are affixed with making sure that Asian Americans are provided with minority language assistance in voting and are not discriminated or disenfranchised with voter identification laws as well as language barriers in order to ensure that everyone has an equal and fair opportunity to vote.

Sources: http://www.advancingequality.org/files/vra_kit.pdf, http://www.nps.gov/nhl/themes/VotingRightsThemeStudy.pdf