Daniel Hopkins just published a piece in the American Journal of Political Science, “Translating into Votes: The Electoral Impacts of Spanish-Language Ballots.” Here’s the abstract of the Hopkins paper:
This article investigates the impact of one election procedure designed to enfranchise immigrants: foreign-language election materials. Specifically, it uses regression discontinuity design to estimate the turnout and election impacts of Spanish-language assistance provided under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Analyses of two different data sets—the Latino National Survey and California 1998 primary election returns—show that Spanish-language assistance increased turnout for citizens who speak little English. The California results also demonstrate that election procedures can influence outcomes, as support for ending bilingual education dropped markedly in heavily Spanish-speaking neighborhoods with Spanish-language assistance. Small changes in election procedures can influence who votes as well as what wins.
Hopkins’ paper makes for a timely read, as the U.S. Census Bureau released on October 12, 2011 their list of electoral jurisdictions across the U.S. that must provide language assistance.