King County Offers Ballots in Multiple Languages

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Did you know King County Elections offers voting materials in Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese? Providing translation services is just another way our office is working to improve voter access.

The Federal Voting Rights Act requires jurisdictions to provide translated election materials in another language if 10,000 people or 5 percent of voting-age citizens speak that language and have limited English proficiency. In accordance with this law, we produce election information and voting materials in Chinese and Vietnamese.

The King County Council raised the bar in 2015 when it passed Ordinance 18086, which required all election materials to also be translated into Korean and Spanish.

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Voters can choose to receive election materials such as a voter registration card, a ballot, and a voters’ pamphlet in one of the four languages. They can also receive all correspondence from the Elections Department in their preferred language.

In addition to election materials, our office provides in-person bilingual voter services and customer support, a dedicated language phone line and translated signage and ballot drop box materials. Each language has its own website with translated information.

To get the word out about our langue services, last year we partnered with the Seattle Foundation to provide grants to community-based organizations in communities where English is not the primary language. Collectively, their voter engagement efforts reached 27,000 limited-English speaking voters and they hosted more than 200 activities and events.

One of the main priorities of the community partnership was to increase access to the materials translated in Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese. Last year, we received about 2,300 requests from limited-English speaking voters to get their voting materials in their preferred language, a 60 percent increase.

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As our county grows, we’ll continue to monitor changes in demographic data and the community need for language services. Voting materials may be offered in additional languages in the future. Stay tuned!

 

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