Potter County using ‘LanguageLine’ translation service for diverse voter population
POTTER COUNTY, TX (KFDA) - This election season, Potter County is using virtual language translators to accommodate a diverse voting population.
LanguageLine is a service that provides a virtual translator for more than 200 languages.
Potter County will be the first county in the state of Texas adopting the service to break language barriers that may arise at the polls.
“We know that we have just one school in particular that has 60 different languages that are spoken,” said Potter County elections administrator Melynn Huntley. “So we know that we have voters that are citizens, eligible to vote, registered to vote, but if they don’t understand the language they may not come to vote.”
She said the elections office realized there were many languages they couldn’t translate during voting for the 2016 Presidential election.
“Between the American Sign Language and Somalian, we realized we had a gap,” said Huntley. “We are not required by law to do this. We just felt like this was something we should do because it’s the right thing to do.”
When a voter who doesn’t speak English or Spanish shows up on election day, they will be prompted to select a language from a tablet device.
A virtual translator will appear on the screen and the election worker will ask for voting information and instructions to be translated to the voter.
“That person when they come on live, we swear them in, and then we work just like you would between a translator,” said Huntley. “So the election worker is going to say to the tablet, you know, ‘This is what I need to ask of this person.’ So we’ll just go back and forth as if there was a live person right there.”
Huntley hopes that using LanguageLine will remove any stigmas surrounding the voting process for those who speak different languages.
“If they’re concerned about not knowing how to work the technology or if there’s something that makes it a stumbling block and that’s the reason that someone doesn’t vote,” she said. “I want to take that excuse away because we want everybody to get out and vote.”
LanguageLine will be used for early voting on Oct. 22 at the Santa Fe building and at Second Baptist Church on election day on Nov. 6.
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