As the 2011 election season nears, Weld County is among 16 counties in Colorado that are waiting to find out whether they will be required to provide election materials in Spanish in November. The U.S. Department of Justice will hand down the decision in the next month, and county clerks will have to comply with the guidelines under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.
The 1973 Voting Rights Act states that areas with large Latino, Asian, American Indian and Alaskan populations provide voting materials in languages spoken by these minorities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, that requirement affects counties in which more than 5 percent of voting-age residents are members of a single minority language group, provided that group also has depressed literacy rates. This data is determined by the most recent census.
Weld County Clerk and Recorder Steve Moreno said he worries about the potential for added costs if Weld is required to provide materials in Spanish. Hiring proper interpreters and making sure poll workers are properly educated will have costs attached, on top of the printing and postage cost for ballots, he said.
Under the federal mandate, counties will have to provide not only ballots in multiple languages but all voting information: voter registration, candidate qualifying, polling place notices, instructional forms, sample ballots and pamphlets. There must also be multilingual poll workers or interpreters on staff during election time, according to the mandate.