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OH: Secretary Of State Says She Supports Bilingual Ballots

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said on Tuesday that she supports the Department of Justice in its efforts to get a bilingual ballot in Cuyahoga County.

Brunner said the DOJ contacted county officials in July, telling them they would need to have ballots in English and Spanish, 10TV's Andy Hirsch reported.

The order came after studies showed the county was home to more than 6,300 Puerto Rican voters with limited English proficiency.

Brunner said the Voting Rights Act has special exceptions for certain groups of U.S. citizens.

"The act recognizes that there are groups of Americans who are educated in languages other than English, such as Native Americans or Eskimos or Puerto Ricans and, under that act, if there's difficulty understanding English then they're to be accommodated under federal law," Brunner said on Tuesday.

"What's difficult for people to understand is that the federal law recognizes that Puerto Rico, even though the schools are American schools, the children there are taught in Spanish," Brunner said. "So the law recognizes if they were educated in Spanish and they move to the mainland, if the have limited English proficiency, we need to accommodate them."

Brunner said there is no specific number of voters a county must have in order to require a bilingual ballot, Hirsch reported.

Brunner said she expects the county and federal government to reach an agreement on the bilingual ballots soon.

There are currently no other counties in Ohio with bilingual ballots, Hirsch reported.

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