Implementation and Cost of Language Assistance in Covered Jurisdictions
There have been few studies examining how covered jurisdictions have implemented Sections 4(f)(4) and 203. Congress commissioned the General Accounting Office (now the General Accountability Office, or GAO) in 1986, 1997, and 2008 to determine the costs associated with language materials and assistance under Section 203. The 1986 GAO study obtained information from 318 political subdivisions and 19 state governments.2 The 1997 GAO study reported data from 292 covered jurisdictions in 26 states.3 The 2008 GAO study evaluated how language assistance was provided in 14 jurisdictions in 12 states.4 Both the 1986 and 1997 GAO studies were limited by the inability of many jurisdictions to report the costs of bilingual voting assistance. A study I conducted with Dr. Rodolfo Espino and students at Arizona State University in 2005 encountered similar problems. Nevertheless, for jurisdictions reporting complete expense data, the costs of compliance comprised only a small fraction of total election expenses.