Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hola, Camden County! Expect surge in Latino voters this year

Camden County is the newest member of the bilingual club in New Jersey. Because of the high number of Latinos in Camden County (not just city) who don't speak English well enough to participate in the electoral process, the federal government is mandating the county provide all voting information in English and Spanish, starting this year.

Hola, Camden County! Expect surge in Latino voters this year

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Camden County is the newest member of the bilingual club in New Jersey.

Because of the high number of Latinos in Camden County (not just city) who don’t speak English well enough to participate in the electoral process, the federal government has sent the county a letter stating it must provide all voting information in English and Spanish.

Camden joins Cumberland, Essex, Middlesex, Passaic, Union, and Bergen in having ballots in both languages, having Spanish-speaking poll workers and other voting information. Across the river, Philadelphia County also has been doing this for some time (although the city did get sued for not following the rules a few years ago-- read settlement here. )Camden City is the only municipality that has been providing voting information in English and Spanish for many years, said John Schmidt, aide at the County Clerk’s office. But now that more than 10,000 voting-age citizens with limited English proficiency are spread all over Camden County and not concentrated in Camden City, the whole county has to follow the city's lead. For example, Cherry hill saw a 125 percent increase, to 4,005, in its Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010, according to census figures.

This of course means, each municipality, school district, and the county will have to fork over taxpayer money to pay for the dual-language voting information. Schmidt said the county is still trying to calculate costs.

Expert say such a change usually results in an increase in Latino voter registration, up to 20 percent.

Will have more on this early next week. Stay tuned…

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About this blog

Allison Steele writes about Camden’s schools, government and businesses. Most importantly, she writes about the city’s residents. She is a former crime reporter who covered the Camden and Philadelphia police departments for the Inquirer. A Philly native, she has been with the Inquirer since 2008.

Send comments, tips and story ideas to asteele@philly.com, call 856-779-3876, or reach out on Twitter @AESteele.

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