Join Us Official English Legislation Media About U.S. English U.S. English Foundation
Legislation

American Elections Act of 2008

American Elections Act of 2008 (Introduced in House)

HR 5971 IH

110th CONGRESS
2d Session

H. R. 5971

To require that ballots used in Federal elections be generally printed only in English and to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to modify the requirement that certain jurisdictions provide ballots and other voting materials in languages other than English, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 6, 2008

Mr. HELLER of Nevada introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To require that ballots used in Federal elections be generally printed only in English and to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to modify the requirement that certain jurisdictions provide ballots and other voting materials in languages other than English, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the `American Elections Act of 2008'.
SEC. 2. REQUIRING BALLOTS USED IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS TO BE PROVIDED ONLY IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
    (a) In General- Subtitle A of title III of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15481 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 303 the following new section:
`SEC. 303A. REQUIRING BALLOTS USED IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS TO BE PROVIDED ONLY IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
    `(a) In General- Except to the extent required under section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, all ballots and balloting material used with respect to an election for Federal office, including all voting information described in section 302(b), may be provided only in the English language.
    `(b) Effective Date- This section shall apply with respect to the regularly scheduled general election for Federal office held in November 2008 and each succeeding election for Federal office.'.
    (b) Conforming Amendments-
      (1) CONTENTS OF PERIODIC ELECTION ADMINISTRATION STUDIES- Section 241 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15381) is amended--
        (A) in subsection (a)(1)--
          (i) by striking `voters, individuals' and inserting `voters and individuals', and
          (ii) by striking `, and voters with limited proficiency in the English language';
        (B) in subsection (b)(5)--
          (i) by striking `impaired), Native American' and inserting `impaired) and Native American', and
          (ii) by striking `, and voters with limited proficiency in the English language'; and
        (C) by striking subsection (b)(14).
      (2) ENFORCEMENT OF REQUIREMENT- Section 401 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15511) is amended by striking `and 303' and inserting `, 303, and 303A'.
    (c) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents of such Act is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 303 the following:
      `303A. Requiring ballots used in Federal elections to be provided only in English language.'.
SEC. 3. BILINGUAL ELECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS WITH POPULATIONS OF AMERICAN INDIANS OR ALASKA NATIVES.
    Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973aa-1a) is amended to read as follows:
`BILINGUAL ELECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS WITH POPULATIONS OF AMERICAN INDIANS OR ALASKA NATIVES
    `Sec. 203. (a) Basis for Requirement- The Congress finds that Native American dialect translations should be provided in voting materials because the languages of Native Americans and Native Alaskans predate the establishment of the United States.
    `(b) Bilingual Voting Materials Requirement-
      `(1) GENERALLY- Before August 6, 2032, no covered political subdivision of a State shall provide voting materials only in the English language.
      `(2) COVERED POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS- A political subdivision is a covered political subdivision for the purposes of this subsection if the Director of the Census determines, based on the 2010 American Community Survey census data and subsequent American Community Survey data in 5-year increments, or comparable census data, that--
        `(A) the political subdivision contains all or any part of an Indian reservation and more than 5 percent of the American Indian or Alaska Native citizens of voting age within the Indian reservation are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient; and
        `(B) the illiteracy rate of the citizens in the language minority as a group is higher than the national illiteracy rate.
      `(3) DEFINITIONS- As used in this section--
        `(A) the term `language minorities' means persons who are American Indian or Alaskan Natives;
        `(B) the term `voting materials' means registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots;
        `(C) the term `limited-English proficient' means unable to speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process;
        `(D) the term `Indian reservation' means any area that is an American Indian or Alaska Native area, as defined by the Census Bureau for the purposes of the 1990 decennial census;
        `(E) the term `citizens' means citizens of the United States; and
        `(F) the term `illiteracy' means the failure to complete the 5th primary grade.
      `(4) SPECIAL RULE- The determinations of the Director of the Census under this subsection shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register and shall not be subject to review in any court.
    `(c) English and Non-English Versions- Whenever any political subdivision subject to the prohibition of subsection (b) of this section provides any registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the language of the applicable minority group as well as in the English language. However, where the language is historically unwritten, the political subdivision is only required to furnish oral instructions, assistance, or other information relating to registration and voting.
    `(d) Declaratory Judgment- Any political subdivision subject to the prohibition of subsection (b) of this section, which seeks to provide English-only registration or voting materials or information, including ballots, may file an action against the United States in the United States District Court for a declaratory judgment permitting such provision. The court shall grant the requested relief if it determines that the illiteracy rate of the applicable language minority group within the political subdivision is equal to or less than the national illiteracy rate.'.

Get Involved

 
Donate online here
 Call to donate:(202) 833-0100
 Join Us and get involved
 Action Center

Stay Informed

Please enter your email address below to receive U.S. English communications
 
© 2014, U.S. English, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Any citation of the material contained in this website must credit U.S.ENGLISH.
No portion of this website may be reproduced or transmitted in any way without the express permission of U.S.ENGLISH.
Copyright violations will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.