Napa County is free of U.S. Department of Justice oversight on how it reaches out to Spanish-only speakers during elections, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the county will stop its bilingual ballot efforts. County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur attributes the county’s 82 percent Nov. 8 election turnout in part to its Spanish-language outreach. One of his primary responsibilities is to make certain every registered voter can cast a vote in an informed manner, he said. “We’re sticking with that goal,” Tuteur told the county Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting. Still, with this and other recent elections developments, Tuteur wants to hear from supervisors and the community. He’s tentatively scheduled a Board of Supervisors election workshop for Feb. 28.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census in 2011 informed Napa County it would have to provide ballot materials in Spanish as well as English. That’s because the mix of limited English proficient voters and educational attainment had triggered Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Napa County began providing ballots and elections materials in separate English and Spanish versions. But that didn’t satisfy the Department of Justice.
On May 31, the county and the Department of Justice reached an agreement. Among other things, it called for bilingual ballot materials and bilingual volunteers at voter assistance centers. The federal agency had six monitors in Napa County for the November election. Federal oversight of Napa County’s bilingual outreach efforts was to last through 2018.