Return to News Jun 29, 2023

Iowa Court Rules That Counties Can Provide Non-English Election Materials

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, an Iowa Court ruled that the state’s “English-Only Law” does not apply to voting materials, allowing counties to provide voter registration forms, absentee ballot applications, and ballots in languages other than English. This ruling was the result of a legal challenge brought by Elias Law Group attorneys representing the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa in October of 2021.

“Iowans with limited English-language proficiency must have access to election materials in their native language in order to secure their right to vote,” said Elias Law Group partner Uzoma Nkwonta. “Thankfully, the Court today ruled that election materials like voter registration forms and ballots are exempt from Iowa’s ‘English-Only Law,’ definitively allowing counties to provide these materials in other languages to ensure that all eligible Iowans can participate in elections regardless of their English proficiency. We are so proud to represent LULAC of Iowa in this litigation and thank them for their hard work to protect and expand voting rights in the Hawkeye State.”  

In today’s ruling, the court found that “the undisputed facts in this case can lead to only one legal conclusion: official materials related to voting are a use of language that is ‘necessary to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America or the Constitution of the State of Iowa.’”

“The right to vote is not merely the ability to check boxes on a piece of paper. It is about being able to register, understanding what is on the ballot, and knowing when and where voting takes place. All of these facets are furthered by allowing counties to provide and accept voting materials in non-English languages,” the judge added.  

Elias Law Group attorneys Uzoma Nkwonta, Liam Hancock, Mindy Johnson, and Alexander Atkins contributed to this case.