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Section 203 Language Determinations


Section 203 Language Provisions of the Voting Rights Act

Language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) require that certain states and political subdivisions provide language assistance during elections for certain language minority groups who are unable to speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process. The language provisions of the VRA were introduced in the 1975 reauthorization with the first listing of Section 203 covered jurisdictions being issued following the 1980 Census. The determinations were released again following the 1990 and 2000 Census as prescribed by law. The 2006 reauthorization of the VRA extended the language provisions through 2032 and instructed the Census Bureau on two changes: Use the American Community Survey; conduct the determinations every five years rather than every ten years as done in the past.

The language minority groups covered by Section 203 are those that speak Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Spanish languages.

Determinations for each state, county or county subdivision (depending on which is the operating level of government), and American Indian/Alaska Native Areas (AIA/ANA), are then computed based on the following:

  • If more than 5% of voting age citizens are limited-English proficient,
  • OR

  • If more than 10,000 voting age citizens are limited-English proficient,
  • AND

  • The rate of total voting age citizens that are limited-English proficient and have less than a 5th grade education is higher than the national rate.
  • THEN:

  • The state, county, or county subdivision under consideration is covered for that specific minority group of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.


Note: If it is determined that an AIA/ANA meets the above criteria for the reservation, then any political subdivision that contains that AIA/ANA is covered.

  • 2021
  • 2016
  • 2011
  • 2002

Section 203 Language Determinations


Section 203 Determinations - Published December 08, 2021

Section 203 Public Use File Dataset

The underlying calculations for every jurisdiction evaluated for possible coverage in the December 8, 2021 Determinations.

Executive Summary of the 2021 Methodology

Additional Section 203 Support Products

pdf Section 203 Decision Flow Diagram [<1.0 MB]
How the law prescribes the calculation of the determination of covered areas under the Section 203 provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
pdf Section 203 Comparison Tables [<1.0 MB]
A series of tables comparing the Section 203 Determinations over time, from 2002 to current.


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