Salt Lake County Makes Welcoming Changes for Hispanic Voters

(KCPW News)  Voters in Salt Lake County now have the option of viewing the ballot in English or Spanish.  County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says the most recent census showed the county met the threshold that, under the Voting Rights Act, requires it to provide the bilingual ballots.  Swensen says there will be additional help at the polling locations for Spanish speakers as well.

“There were 107 polling locations that met the threshold where we needed to provide a bilingual poll worker, and if someone needs assistance with language, they are there to assist in that capacity as well,” says Swensen.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there were 104,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Utah in 2010, which totaled 6 percent of the state’s eligible voting population. Hispanic voter turnout has traditionally been low in Utah; however Archie Archuleta, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, says the changes should help.

“Even just symbolically what it says is ‘you’re OK, and your language is OK, come on in.’  So it has always been a bone of contention that it needs to be done, even though the numbers that may use it, or have to use it, may not be as high as people think,” says Archuleta.

Archuleta says Hispanic community groups, as well as each of the Hispanic candidates, have promoted the changes to voters.  One other county in Utah, San Juan, must also provide a bilingual ballot for Navajo voters.