Gwinnett County is now required to provide voting materials in Spanish, an effort an activist group continues to push in Hall County as well.
The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) said in a press statement that "Gwinnett County can be a model for other counties to follow their lead on providing Spanish language materials for voting."
Gwinnett was designated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be covered by the Voting Rights Act Section 203, which requires a state or local government to provide voting materials in an alternate language if more than 5-percent of the voting-age population are members of a single-language minority group.
Census estimates from July 2015 indicate that one in five Gwinnett residents is Hispanic.
"GALEO is very glad about the designation by the U.S. Census Bureau and the requirement to provide much needed Spanish language assistance to Latino voters in Gwinnett County. Voting is an important right we have as U.S. citizens, regardless of English language proficiency. As we had mentioned over one year ago, the need for Spanish language assistance and information is certainly a reality," said Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO executive director.
Gonzalez said GALEO will act as a watch dog for Gwinnett County to ensure Latino residents have access to Spanish voting materials whenever needed. The county will now be required to have all voting materials, which includes notices, ballots and instructions available in Spanish, and the county must also provide Spanish-speaking help at each voting precinct.
The effort will continue in other counties for GALEO. Gonzalez said Gwinnett can serve as the model for other areas that want to offer bi-lingual voting materials.
Census numbers in Hall County, for example, estimate the Hispanic population at around 27-percent, though it has not received the same designation.
(NOTE: Voting-age demographic data was not immediately available. It is possible the Hispanic voting population has not crossed the 5-percent threshold in Hall County.)
Gwinnett is the only area in Georgia on the U.S. Census Bureau's list.