A federal judge on Monday ordered the state to take additional steps to provide voting materials to Alaska Native voters with limited English for the upcoming election. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ordered the state to distribute translated announcements to be read on radio that include information on early voting, races and initiatives on the November ballot. The state, among other things, must make available on its website translations of election material in Yup’ik dialects and provide to outreach workers translations of such things as candidate statements, initiative summaries and pro and con statements on the initiatives. The Division of Elections also is to provide translations to the plaintiffs in the case to get their input.
The division is to increase to at least 30 hours the number for which outreach workers may be paid; the state had proposed increasing the number to 30 hours.
Buttons for poll workers in the three census areas affected by the case — Dillingham, Wade-Hampton and Yukon-Koyukuk — are to say “Can I help?” translated into Yup’ik or Gwich’in, with posters in those languages and English also stating how voters can request help in casting their ballots.
The lawsuit brought by several Native villages alleged the state had failed to provide accurate, complete translations of voting materials in Native languages. The state argued it had taken reasonable steps to implement standards for voting materials for non-English speakers.
Gleason had asked the state to weigh in on what changes it believed it could make ahead of the Nov. 4 election. Her order draws from responses from both the state and plaintiffs.