In a move that some say affirms the Voting Rights Act (VRA), a Federal judge in Texas has agreed with Asian-American activists who claimed existing Texas election code unfairly kept voters with language needs from choosing the help they want. In a summary decision issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ordered Texas officials to refrain from engaging in practices that deny voting rights secured by the VRA and gave the plantiffs seven days to offer remedies to the situation. “The judge agreed with us that this Texas election law was an arbitrary restriction on voting rights,” Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) told NBC News. “If a voter walked into the poll site and asked for an ‘assistor,’ anyone (except an employer or union rep) could help. But if the voter didn’t say the magic word and asked for an ‘interpreter,’ that interpreter would have to be a registered voter in the same county where he or she was assisting the voter. It just doesn’t make sense, unless one is trying to disenfranchise a certain group of voters.”
The state’s Division of Elections is required to translate ballots and create an elections glossary in six dialects of Yu’pik and also Gwich’in. Those are the terms of a lawsuit settled last year by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. But as Alaska Public Media’s Anne Hillman learned – that process isn’t easy. Think about these words – candidates for elected office are running for a seat. What image pops in your head? Retired Yup’ik professor Oscar Alexie says not a political event. “I’m thinking of people like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and all those guys at the race line waiting for someone to say ‘Go!’” And whomever gets to the chair first is the boss, Alexie said. Alexie is part of the eight-person team that’s trying to translate election materials into Yup’ik. He said it’s not easy because the words need to mean something in Yup’ik, not just be literal translations from the English. So one word in English – like candidate – ends up being a phrase in Yup’ik. But technical ballot language in English is dense. Something like “candidate statement” isn’t straightforward.
Kansas: Errors in Kansas’ Spanish voting guide include wrong registration deadline | The Kansas City Star
Spanish-language voter guides distributed by the Kansas secretary of state’s office did not match the English-language version and contained errors that could have resulted in people being unable to register and vote. The errors added fuel to complaints that Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s voter registration policies pose hurdles for some voters, including minorities. Ongoing lawsuits challenge the proof-of-citizenship requirements he wrote and shepherded through the Legislature. Craig McCullah, who is in charge of the office’s publications and a spokesman for Kobach, accepted responsibility for the errors and said they resulted from a clerical mistake in updating the guides for this year’s elections. “It was an administrative error that I am diligently working to fix,” he said.