FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2019
Commr. K Morrison - Ted Mason (312) 590-3443
Commr. Britton - Julie Kaviar (312) 603-4933
COOK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SCOTT BRITTON AND KEVIN B. MORRISON CELEBRATE IMPORTANT STEP FOR EXPANDING VOTING RIGHTS IN COOK COUNTY
The Cook County Commissioners introduced legislation that will expand access to fully translated ballots and voting materials in Cook County
CHICAGO—September 27, 2019—Cook County Commissioners Scott Britton, 14th District, and Kevin B. Morrison, 15th District introduced the Voting Opportunity and Translation Equity (VOTE) Ordinance at the Cook County Board of Commissioners September board meeting yesterday. The VOTE Ordinance will expand access to fully translated ballots and voting material for suburban Cook County residents with limited-English-proficiency in 2020.
“I commend Commissioners Scott Britton and Kevin Morrison for bringing their attention to this important legislation, especially as we look ahead to a pivotal election year,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “It is essential to our democracy that all residents have equal opportunity and access to exercise their right to vote, regardless of the language they speak, their disability, or their inability to read or write.”
An expansion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the VOTE Ordinance will guarantee that starting next year each single language that has more than 13,000 or more limited-English-proficient Cook County residents will be guaranteed a fully translated ballot, including audio, electronic and paper, as well as all translated voting materials such as the County Clerk’s website and new voter guides. Each single language that has more than 10,000 or more limited-English-proficient Cook County residents will be guaranteed all translated voting materials and a translated sample ballots.
“More than one third of Cook County residents speak a language other than English at home, and we can and should do better to empower all citizens to participate in our democracy,” said Commissioner Kevin Morrison. “All citizens have the right to vote and deserve equal access to the ballot. The VOTE Ordinance will make our county a leader on this issue and set an example of how to create meaningful equity at the ballot.”
In addition to expanding translated ballots and voting materials, the VOTE Ordinance also proposed codifying non-ballot language access including strengthening protections to bring a translator to the ballot and making it easier for limited-English speakers to access language support services available, including standardized and visible translated signage. The VOTE Ordinance also mandate a triennial review and reporting process to better account for changing demographics. The VOTE Ordinance could add language support for as many as 10 languages, a change that Commissioner Britton called “an example of how we can make Cook County government work for all County residents.”
"With voting rights being attacked, we must invest in our diverse citizenry and ensure they can actively and confidently participate in the democracy that serves them," said Commissioner Britton. "By expanding the number of language translations offered through the VOTE Ordinance, we will be able to better adapt to the County’s dynamic communities and enable all eligible suburban Cook County voters to make more informed decisions about their elected officials and the ballot initiatives before them.”
President Preckwinkle along with all Cook County Commissioners voted yesterday to co-sponsor the legislation and move the VOTE Ordinance forward into the Legislation Committee, which will convene on October 23rd. The vote to pass the ordinance will likely go before the full Board of Commissioners at the October board meeting.
Visit http://www.CommissionerScottBirtton.com/VOTE to learn more about the VOTE Ordinance and how to share support for language equity.
About Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison: Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison represents the 15th District which includes the Townships of Barrington, Elk Grove, Hanover and Schaumburg, as well as parts of Palatine and Wheeling Townships. A native of Elk Grove Village with a background in public service, Commissioner Morrison serves as Vice Chair of the Human Relations and Tax Delinquency committees and his core issues include improving access to mental health services and providing development opportunities and support for small businesses. For information, please contact the Commissioner’s office by calling (312) 603-6388 or visiting http://commissionerkevinbmorrison.org/
About Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton:
As Commissioner of the 14th District, Scott Britton represents the Northfield, Wheeling and Palatine Townships. Commissioner Britton serves on 15 committees, including as Vice Chair of Worker's Compensation and Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations. In addition, as Commissioner of the Cook County Forest Preserve, he serves on 11 committees, including as Vice Chair of the Botanic Garden and Worker’s Compensation. Commissioner Scott Britton grew up in a small farming community in Central Illinois and has maintained a philosophy heavily grounded in the values and principles of his rural hometown. After graduating from law school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he made his home in the northern suburbs. There he raised his two children, Ellie and Jake, who are proud products of Glenview public schools. Commissioner Britton has previously served as chairman of the Glenview Emergency 911 Board and on the Glenview District 34 Board of Education. He was elected to the Glenview Village Board in 2007 and continued to serve before being elected a Cook County Commissioner in 2018. Commissioner Britton maintains a strong focus on affordable housing, public health, equal opportunity, and worker rights, while being vigilant about his fiduciary responsibility. Connect with us at: www.CommissionerScottBritton.com, Facebook.com/CommissionerBritton or Twitter.com/CmsrBritton.