Limited language assistance at voting polls in the Treasure Valley

Posted at 5:32 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-08 18:35:15-05

TREASURE VALLEY, Idaho — As the Treasure Valley grows, so does the population of people who speak a native language other than English.

While local counties don't yet meet the federal criteria that require they provide voter information in other languages, that could soon be changing.

"If people don't speak English, they are welcome to bring a translator to the polling location," said Joe Decker, Canyon County Public Information Officer.

Federal law requires Elections Offices to offer ballot material in a different language under certain conditions. One is if more than 5% of the population or 10 thousand eligible voters speak a language other than English.

"Right now, we are at half of a percent and around 1,700. And right now, we can't do that, and we can't justify spending the money on it," said Trent Tripple, Deputy Ada County Clerk.

According to the U.S Census, Canyon County is one of the countries with the highest number of Latinos in Idaho. Canyon County election officials anticipate a change soon.

"Going into the 2020 census, we were anticipating this might be the one to put us over the edge. So if not, this one, 2030 for sure," said Decker.

Both Canyon County and Ada County have limited bilingual staff available. They recommend anyone who might need assistance vote early.

"On election day, it becomes more problematic because they need to vote in their precincts," said Trent Tripple.