ASU research backs bilingual voter material
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 10, 2005

Eugene Scott

TEMPE - Arizona State University student research may help more citizens who aren't fluent in English exercise their voting rights.

James Tucker, an adjunct professor at ASU who co-directed a student research project, was scheduled to testify on those findings before a Congressional subcommittee Wednesday. Time constraints, instead, forced him to submit a written statement in favor of renewing the bilingual election requirements of the Voters Rights Act of 1965.

Tucker's students found that providing written and verbal election information in other languages helps to simplify the voting process for those not proficient in English. The result: It makes it easier for them to vote. The students surveyed 810 places in 33 states.

Based on research, Tucker wrote in favor of the bilingual requirements, which are up for renewal in 2007.

Mark Jacobs, dean of ASU's Barrett Honors College, said having student research presented to Congress has encouraged more students to take up research projects.

Opponents of renewing the bilingual requirements say the costs are too pricey, but the ASU study found that costs are modest.

Tucker wrote that people who aren't fluent in English suffer when their jurisdiction doesn't adhere to bilingual requirements. The study also reported that the number of citizens needing services actually is nearly twice as many as elected officials perceive.

Hearings will continue until Nov. 15, Tucker said. Congress will take up the issue when it reconvenes in February after winter recess.