|Houston- Notice was given today by the Bureau of the Census that Harris County is subject to the minority language assistance provisions in Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Chinese language, making it the second Asian language covered by Section 203 with Vietnamese covered by the 2002 Section 203 determinations.|
Section 203 mandates that a state or political subdivision must provide language assistance to voters if more than five (5) percent of voting age citizens of a single-language minority group or more than 10,000 of the voting age citizens of the minority group and do not “speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process” and if the rate of those citizens who have completed the fifth grade is higher than the national rate of voting age citizens who have not completed the fifth grade.
The Asian American population increased in Harris County by 43%, with over half of that in the Chinese population (24%) since 2000. The community had begun to translate some basic information two years ago with cooperation from the County Clerk’s office in preparation for this possibility. Voting materials have been provided in the Vietnamese language in Harris County since 2002, after the threshold for language assistance was met. Voting materials have been provided in the Spanish language previous to that.
The Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative (TAARI), a project of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) based in Washington DC., was created as a redistricting awareness campaign for areas in Texas with significant Asian population concentration. “We are absolutely thrilled with this news. Voting is a sacred right of American citizenship and this new provision means that even more citizens will be able to exercise that right”, said Rogene Gee Calvert, Director of the Texas Asian-American Redistricting Initiative. TAARI will work to assure a smooth transition and ensure the proper implementation of a Chinese language assistance program for elections by the county through working with existing groups, who have experience with translating and understand local language nuances and preferences, as well as the Harris County Clerk’s Office.
The Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative (TAARI), a nonpartisan project of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), is a redistricting awareness campaign for areas in Texas with significant Asian population concentration. TAARI will focus its efforts on civic engagement through awareness, education and training. The goals re to affirm in the public record where Asian Americans comprise communities of interest with shared social and economic characteristics such as income, educational backgrounds, housing patterns, culture and language, and employment and economic patterns. TAARI has established a community coalition to advocate for inclusion of Asian Americans in the redistricting process and construct redistricting maps maximizing Asian American political power and to ensure compliance with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
CONTACT: Rogene Gee Calvert 832-723-4508
909 Texas St., Suite 1712 - Houston - Texas 77002 - T (713) 247-9600 - F (713) 247-9605