Translated ballots and voting materials will be available in Russian and Somali for the very first time in the upcoming August Primary Election. For many years, King County Elections (KCE) has provided ballots, voting materials, customer service, correspondence, and voter education in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
“Our commitment to language access is about more than words on paper. Being able to vote in your preferred language is fundamental to being able to fully participate in our democracy. Whether it’s reading candidate statements or understanding the signature challenge letter that arrives in the mail, it’s important for every voter to feel confident in their understanding of how to navigate elections and who and what they’re voting on,” stated Julie Wise, King County Director of Elections.
In addition to ballots and voters’ pamphlets, the KCE Language Access and Community Outreach team translates voter education materials, the Elections website, forms, and correspondence. They also provide customer service in-language and work to spread the word about KCE’s language access services and educate voters in communities across the county.
KCE has provided ballots and voting materials in Chinese since 2002, Vietnamese since 2012, and Korean and Spanish since 2016. Director Wise recommended the addition of Russian and Somali as supported languages following a review of demographic data and interviews with community service providers. This recommendation was followed with action by the King County Council, including both budgetary approval and legislation to preserve language access in elections indefinitely. King County’s addition of Russian and Somali surpasses federal standards set by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.