Published: 9/4/2022 14:47:31
Modified: 09/04/2022 2:43:50 PM
When voters head to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on September 13, voting instructions will be available in English, Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese.
The Secretary of State’s office announced the expanded translations available in an effort to make voting more transparent and accessible, Secretary of State David Scanlan said.
“In recent years we have received more frequent requests to provide voting information in languages other than English,” said Scanlan. “We see ethnic groups growing in New Hampshire. There is more than a request for information that is easy to view and understand. “
Under section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, if five percent of the population within a voting jurisdiction does not speak primarily English or is a member of a single linguistic minority group, the voting information must be provided in that language, in addition to English. These jurisdictions are typically counties or a township in a state and linguistic determinations are made using the most recent census data.
While there are no voting jurisdictions that have a dominant linguistic minority group according to these standards, accessible instructions are still needed, Scanlan said.
The three new languages - French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese – were decided using census data. Available translated information includes how to vote in New Hampshire, voting rights and election day instructions.
Election officials are encouraged to make records available, but translated information can also be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
It was also up to a local ordinance to help someone at the polls who had an English language barrier, Scanlan said.
Through Overcomes Refugee Services, translation services are also available to new Americans who are navigating the voting process with language barriers, said Clement Kigugu, the executive director.
Prior to the 2020 election, Overcomers held a training course for New Americans in which they translated election material into various languages which provided instructions on how to register to vote and what happens at the polls.
In the 2020 presidential elections they also had an interpreter available to assist voters.
Similar services will be available for the upcoming elections, he said. The winners received a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to fund these election information sessions. The training will also provide guidance on how to assist voters impartially.
Then the Overcomers team can use this training to help educate and register the New American population before election day.
“The important thing is that people understand how important it is for new Americans to have access to the vote,” Kigugu said.
Accessibility to voting is a confidence factor for new Americans who have recently become citizens, he said. Often, many are eager to vote in their first suitable election.
“It helps to really feel that I have a country where I can vote for the leader I want,” Kigugu said. “Or may my voice count too.”