The Voting Rights Act and Latino Voter Registration: Symbolic Assistance for English Speaking Latinos
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.
Michael Parkin and Frances Zlotnick. February 2014. “The Voting Rights Act and Latino Voter Registration: Symbolic Assistance for English Speaking Latinos.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 36(1): 48-63.
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Latino political participation, Voter registration, VRA