Sixteen Colorado counties are printing ballots this week in English but not Spanish for the November election after waiting in vain for months for a federal Voting Rights Act mandate.
The counties had expected to be ordered by the U.S. Justice Department to supply ballots in Spanish as well as English because populations of Spanish-speaking voters had increased to a level that could trigger a requirement for dual-language ballots under the 1973 act.
But ballots were certified Friday by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and a spokesman for his office said it is too late for Spanish ballots. “That ship has sailed,” said Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge.
Ten Colorado counties already are required to provide Spanish-language ballots or interpreters for Ute voters because more than 5 percent of residents of voting age, or more than 10,000 residents, have limited English proficiency.
That number is gleaned from the latest census counts. Coolidge said the Census Bureau has told Gessler that the earliest that information will be available is late September.
The Justice Department initially had told Gessler’s office that the potential dual-language orders would be forthcoming in July.