Attorneys have responded to the State of Alaska’s proposed plan to address a state Supreme Court order to improve translation of voting materials in Native languages before November 4th Elections. In a 30-page document, Attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund, representing Yup’ik and Gwich’in Alaska Native voters, asked for five main changes before election day. NARF Attorney Natalie Landreth says the most important request is that the state have bilingual help for Native language voters in every community where it’s needed. Voters at the Lower Kuskokwim School District choosing primary election ballots on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014. “You have to have a bilingual person in place in each place in each village in advance of the election and on election day, that’s number one. Number two: you have to have written translations in Yup’ik of the ballot measures, the pro and con statements, the neutral summaries and the complicated pre-election information like what early voting is, how to get registered,” said Landreth.
The state has now offered the changes after a decision by federal judge Sharon Gleason that the voter information brochures were inadequate under the Voting Rights Act.
The state’s proposal does not call for one bilingual person to be in each community where voters need help. The state does address additional written translations in their proposed plan.
In the plaintiff’s response brief filed Wednesday, Landreth says the state must address dialect differences and get the word out about services.