Incorrect translations, hard-to-find details, gibberish, or sometimes no information at all. That’s what many Spanish-speaking American voters encounter when searching for online voting materials in Spanish. In most cities, counties, and states across the nation, there is no federal requirement to present information in anything other than English. But for 263 jurisdictions — the vast majority of which are counties — federal law requires that voter information be presented in a minority language, with Spanish being the most common. California, Texas, and Florida are the only states required to present statewide voter information in Spanish. WhoWhatWhy has examined a number of official government websites across the country, looking at how well English-language voter information is translated into Spanish, how often it’s done, and if there are any major discrepancies between the two. What we discovered is that translated material is often hard to find and sometimes is nonexistent. Also, much of what does exist is poorly translated. In a closely contested election, that could make all the difference. In some instances, certain information just doesn’t get included in Spanish.
For example, in Texas — where 40 percent of the population is Latino — the list of voter rights presented in English on the VoteTexas.gov website is missing the two final items in the site’s Spanish translation.
… Here’s a small example found among many similar mistakes on the site: “Since Florida is a closed primary state” is translated to “Desde Florida es un estado de primarias cerradas.” The Spanish translation here is nonsensical, essentially stating: “From Florida is a state of closed primaries.”
On the New Mexico Voter Bill of Rights page, a line that states “Vote by emergency paper ballot if the voting machine is broken,” is translated into “De votar mediante papeleta para votar está funcionando.” The Spanish translation reads, nonsensically: “To vote by paper ballot to vote is working.”