While the Voting Rights Act has been around since 1965, there have been many amendments to this act including the addition of Section 203. This Section requires districts to provide materials relating to the electoral process in both English and the language of the applicable minority group. For Long Island school districts, this means budget election materials must be in both English and Spanish.
In more recent news, 81 Fed. Reg. 87532 published the “Bureau of the Census Director’s determination as to which political subdivisions are subject to the minority language assistance provisions of the Act. As of [December 5, 2016], jurisdictions that are listed as covered by Section 203 have a legal obligation to provide language assistance prescribed by the Act.” As a result, school districts located in Suffolk County and Nassau County are subject to the requirements of Section 203 for the Spanish language.
Near the end of the 2017-2018 school year, the US Attorney’s Office of the Department of Justice informed many districts that their compliance with the mandate per the most recent election (for many this was May 2018) is being reviewed. These districts are being asked to provide proof of compliance with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. To comply, schools across Long Island need copies of registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, and other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots in Spanish.
Schools that are not in compliance will have to spend funds that may not have been budgeted for. Districts will have to spend more on printing costs as voting materials need to be in two languages. In addition, districts will have to obtain ballot readers that can handle processing another language and will have to retain the services of certified translators to translate the required documents. Since these are going to be recurring costs, schools should ensure that such expenses are included in budgets on an annual basis.
For more information about this topic, please contact:
Shari Diamond, CIA
Shari has been with Cerini & Associates, LLP since 2008 where she works primarily with the firm’s school district clients providing internal audit and claims audit services. She has over twenty years’ experience performing internal audits, risk assessments, and compliance reviews, as well as recommending processes to strengthen the internal controls environment while increasing efficiencies. Her prior experience at PWC and Northrop Grumman included performing Information Technology audits.