More people who speak Alaska Native languages but who have limited English proficiency will receive translated sample ballots and other election material. That’s due to changes the U.S. Census Bureau announced on Monday.
The Census Bureau expanded the number of areas and languages eligible for election material translation.
Indra Arriaga, who manages language assistance compliance for the state Division of Elections, said it’s important to ensure that people receive translated sample ballots and election outreach public service announcements in minority languages.
“Anytime you have an increased number of people at the polls deciding things for themselves, it’s a benefit,” Arriaga said. “And that is the mandate of the division: to make sure that any Alaskan who is eligible to vote can vote.”
In 1975, Congress found that people who use some minority languages had been effectively excluded from participating in the electoral process. It amended the Voting Rights Act to ensure that election materials are provided in languages other than English.
The Census Bureau periodically changes the list of local areas and languages that are covered.