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What one organization is doing to ensure Spanish speaking voters in Idaho don't get left behind

Posted at 8:31 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 14:10:32-04

MAGIC VALLEY — After the 2010 Census showed that Lincoln County had a high number of Spanish speaking voters, the Department of Justice required them to provide voting ballots in Spanish for those who needed them. Lincoln County became the only county in Idaho to require that information.

Conservation Voters for Idaho is working on expanding that and provide voting information in Spanish to voters state-wide.

"Language plays a vital role here, and to truly feel like you're voting in a way that is your voice, it has to be in the language that you prefer," Antonio Hernandez, Voting rights coordinator for Conservation Voters for Idaho, CVI, said.

Although Lincoln County has provided information to voters in Spanish for the past two years, CVI says they have noticed some grammatical and spelling errors and some things being mistranslated.

"If you were to receive an English voter form that was mistranslated and full of errors and typos, that wouldn't be allowed. It would be outrageous to think that it's ok for only certain voters to receive information that is incomplete and missing gaps," Hernandez said.

But the Lincoln County Clerk says they have worked with various people every year to limit the number of errors. They have also worked with the Department of Justice to ensure translations are correct.

"We have been trying, and as I said, it seems ok with one person's interpretation, but then when someone else looks at it, they don't agree with it, so it's been a learning process for us," Brenda Farnworth, Lincoln County Clerk, said.

And Hernandez says making sure this information is provided in Spanish and translated correctly is vital in the voting process.

"When it comes to protecting Idaho and making sure that Idaho has clean water and clean air and natural places for the future, we can't continue to let our largest minority population continue to be left behind," Hernandez said.

The organization is continuing to work with county officials to ensure they provide voting materials in Spanish to as many people as possible.

"The more materials we have available for folks that are easy for them to understand, the better democracy we're going to have and the better results we're going to have with our elections," Hernandez said.

If you need voting materials in Spanish, you could visit Lincoln County's website or Conservation Voters for Idaho's website.