We’re highlighting the great work our translators do helping make our elections and services accessible to every member of the community. Here we sit down for a brief Q&A with Juan Vazquez, our Spanish language translator.
What brings you to working in local government at King County?
I was born in Mexico, but immigrated to the United States when I was thirteen. I attended Seattle University for my Bachelor of Arts, then completed my Master of Arts at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. Afterwards I went on to work for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer serving in Cape Verde and Brazil.
I enjoyed living overseas and working for the federal government, but I wanted to come back home to make a difference in my community so I decided to join King County Elections. I want to be part of an organization that strives to provide all citizens with the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.
Why choose to work in Language Services for King County Elections?
I want to improve voter access by eliminating barriers to voting. One of these barriers is language, and as a certified Spanish interpreter for social services, I believe I can be an asset for improving our communication with the Latino community. Also my previous experience with community outreach will be an asset when providing information and services to other underserved communities.
How does your work support the King County Elections mission of conducting fair, open and accurate elections?
By eliminating language barriers and educating voters about the election process, I am supporting King County Elections in ensuring that elections are open and fair because everyone is empowered to vote.
Why is it important to do this translation work and represent the many diverse groups and cultures with King County?
King County has a population of over 1.9 million and it continues to grow and become more diverse. Currently, voting-age residents of King County speak more than 170 different languages. To ensure that elections are fair every voter should have access to the same information and services in order to participate in the political process and cast a vote.
What can be a challenge in your role, and what is something you enjoy?
The biggest challenge of my job is managing the limited time I have to achieve competing priorities. Translations are time consuming and have strict deadlines, which prevent me from being out in the community conducting outreach as much as I would like to.
Participating in outreach events is actually what I most enjoy about my job because I get to talk to voters face-to-face, and answer questions about registering and the election process. I also get to collaborate with other organizations who are passionate about empowering all citizens to be civically engaged, which allows me to be involved in different ways in making a difference in my community.