Cook County Board Unanimously passes updates to the VOTE Ordinance
Language Access at the Ballot Box for all current language groups will be preserved for generations
Chicago, Ill. – October 19th, 2023 – Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance amendment streamlining language access provisions in the Voting Opportunity and Translation Equity Ordinance. The changes will preserve ballot access to any language group that has previously met the threshold for translated materials.
“Today, we take another step towards achieving the equity goals of our board.” said Commissioner Kevin Morrison. “Language access at the ballot box is critical to ensuring all of our residents have the chance to make their voices heard in our elections. As we continue to see rampant voter suppression in other states, Cook County remains the gold standard for voting access.”
“This ordinance amendment states unequivocally that language access will not be a barrier for voters in Cook County,” Commissioner Scott Britton said. “We are guaranteeing the 35% of voters whose mother tongue is not English will continue to have the ability to confidently and actively participate in democracy. Everyone deserves to cast their ballots with pride. I remain committed to ensuring all residents of Cook County feel empowered as they exercise their civic duty and vote.”
“Language access to the ballot is not just a commitment, it’s a celebration of diversity and inclusion, and the Clerk’s Office is proud to help ensure that every citizen’s voice can be heard in our democratic process,” said Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough. “I want to thank Commissioners Morrison and Britton and the entire Cook County Board for their commitment to this important issue and their continued efforts to strengthen and protect Cook County’s VOTE ordinance.”
When the VOTE Ordinance was initially adopted in 2019, eight additional languages were added to required translated materials making Cook County one of the top jurisdictions in the nation for ballot language access.
Under the changes to this Ordinance, no current language group will have their translated materials rescinded this cycle. The VOTE ordinance previously added Gujarati, Urdu, Arabic, Korean, Tagalog, Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian, in addition to federally mandated languages of Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, and English.
This Ordinance Amendment has been immediately adopted and shall apply to all future elections held in Cook County.