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 the year 2032 and instructed the Census Bureau on two changes: use the American Community Survey as the primary data source; and conduct the determinations every five years rather than every ten years, as was done previously.
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 Areas/Alaska Native Areas (AIA/ANA), are then computed based on the following:
December 08, 2021
The Census Bureau identified a modeling error impacting estimates generated as inputs to the Section 203 language determinations published December 8, 2021. This error affected two language groups, Houma and Alaskan Native tribes not specified, resulting in values being uncalculated when they should have been filled with predicted values. The plurality of the missing values had Limited English Proficient percentages close to zero and therefore would have likely been suppressed in the public use file. None of the values would have changed the published language determinations so no new data release will be made. This error had no effect on the final 2021 Section 203 language determinations.
As enacted in 1965 and amended in 1982 and 2006, Section 203(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires that a State or political subdivision in certain circumstances must provide language assistance during elections for groups of citizens who are unable to speak or understand English well enough to participate in the electoral process. These circumstances are defined in Section 203(b) in terms of specific determinations involving the sizes and proportions of designated population subgroups as measured by the most current American Community Survey (ACS) and other census data. Section 203(b) as amended prescribes that the Director of the Census Bureau shall make these determinations every 5 years, based on population estimates derived from the ACS, and allows for the use of other relevant census data. This document summarizes the statistical methodology behind the 2021 determinations based on 2015-2019 5-year ACS data and released on December 8, 2021 (https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2021-26547).