Title

The Voting Rights Act and Latino Voter Registration: Symbolic Assistance for English Speaking Latinos

Abstract

This study explores how the language minority provisions in the Voting Rights Act (VRA) affect Latino voter registration. We are particularly interested in how these provisions affect Latino citizens with varying levels of English language proficiency. Using data from the 2006 National Latino Survey, we find that Latino citizens with limited English skills register to vote at about the same rate whether or not they live in a county mandated by the VRA to provide registration and voting materials in Spanish. However, for Latinos who speak English “very well,” we find that access to these materials is associated with increased registration rates, all else equal. We interpret these findings to suggest that the positive effects of VRA coverage on Latino registration are due to a symbolic “welcoming” effect, rather than substantial reductions in administrative barriers to registration.

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Publication Date

2-1-2014

Publication Title

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences

Department

Politics

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1177/0739986313511056

Keywords

Latino political participation, Voter registration, VRA

Language

English

Format

text

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