Local Nonprofit Creating Spanish Language Voter Guide For The Valley
Pueden encontrar la versión en español aqui.
All registered voters in Colorado will receive an official “blue book” in the mail. The bipartisan guide is used to help voters decipher complex and sometimes confusing ballot issues. But if your first language is Spanish, you may be out of luck.
According to the Colorado General Assembly, only four counties in the state -- Conejos, Costilla, Denver, and Saguache -- are required to offer a Spanish version of the booklet. The Legislative Council, which is responsible for sending out the ballot information booklets, follows the determination of the U.S. Department of Justice as to which counties are subject to this requirement.
“Obviously we would advocate that all Coloradans should be able to at the very least get the blue book in both languages in print,” the Executive Director of Voces Unidas de las Montañas, Alex Sanchez said. “Especially in a state where almost 25% of the population is Latino and many of us either prefer, or speak Spanish.”
The new nonprofit is based in Glenwood Springs and created by leaders from the Roaring Fork Latino Network, “to elevate the voices of Latinas and Latinos from Parachute to Aspen.”
Sanchez said the group decided to make their own voter guide after finding out the Legislative Council would only be sending Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield County residents a web link to the Spanish version of the booklet, rather than a physical copy.
“Someone would have to take those extra steps to get to a computer and literally type the URL exactly as it appears in the print version for you to have access to the Spanish content,” he said.
According to the 2010 census, about 30% of Eagle and Garfield counties are Latino and about 27% are non-English speakers. Sanchez said these numbers highlight the larger need to improve communications with the Spanish-speaking community in the valley and beyond.
“This is an important part of our work to ensure that Latinas and Latinos participate regardless of how they vote," he said. “Our interest is to make sure we’re voting at every single local election.”
Voces Unidas will be publishing their non-partisan, bilingual voter guide the same day as ballots are mailed out on Friday, Oct. 9.
“It will be available to the community to ensure that people understand the types of positions that they’re voting for on the ballot both at the state and local level,” Sanchez said.
The voter guide is part of Voces Unidas’ larger voter education initiative, which provides information including key election dates and how to register to vote. And Sanchez says they’ll continue working to make sure local residents get a printed “blue book” in Spanish ahead of the next election.
Spanish translation of this story is made possible by a grant from the Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.