Incorrect Spanish Translations Cause Voting Problems

Getting out the vote in the United States is hard enough as it is. But when you add in more difficulties because of incorrect translations or localizations that have missing information, it can be a huge problem. Currently, federal law requires that voter be made available in "minority languages" in more than 200 U.S. jurisdictions, so when issues arise, it can be problematic.


On California’s Spanish-language voting website, a section of election dates has headers in Spanish, but everything inside the grid is in English. To make matters worse, the link at the bottom of the page to the California voter guide in Spanish is a dead link that sends you to a “Not Found” page.

Sophia Lakin, a staff attorney for the ACLU, said such examples “raise serious concerns that we may be instituting a prohibitive English literacy test for registered, qualified voters.”

“In some cases, this misinformation may serve as an insurmountable bar to the ballot box, and voters may not even know that they are being disenfranchised,” she said.

“If they do realize that the information they’re receiving is incomplete or incorrect, then they may very well feel marginalized and disengaged from the political process. I have no doubt this depresses turnout and general political and civic engagement.”
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