EUREKA - Voting is difficult as is. Understanding and formulating educated opinions on the propositions, the measures, and the candidates can be demanding. But for some in Humboldt County, there’s an added challenge.
“We have never had them. We never had Spanish ballots in Humboldt county,” Carolyn Crnich, Registrar of Voters for Humboldt County, said.
Humboldt County is one of the last in the state to provide translated ballots for its voters. The only available ballot on Election Day is in English.
“If any voter has difficulty participating in the political process, then your community isn’t equally represented. We don't want to see any sector of voters alienated,” Heidi Benzonelli, president of the Westside Community Improvement Association, said.
Voter registration and the voter information guide is provided in both English and Spanish, but the ballot itself remains in English. This year, however, an addition to each poll location will attempt to accommodate Spanish speakers.
“This is the first election where we had a facsimile of the ballot translated into Spanish and that will be hanging on the wall at each polling place,” Crnich noted.
Organizations have pushed for translated ballots. The League of Women Voters and LatinoNet have worked with the local elections department for the translated ballot. But ultimately, it comes down to the census and the percentage of the population that uses Spanish as their first language.
“As we have an increasing number of Spanish speaking population here, there will be Spanish language and other language ballots as well as there are in other parts of California. But until then we will do the best with what we have,” Benzonelli said.