Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 22, 2014

Voters Face Language Barriers in Virginia, New Mexico

After months of courting, some Spanish-speaking voters encountered problems casting a ballot today.

Voters exiting the Bailey’s Community Center in Falls Church, Va., one of Northern Virginia’s more ethnically diverse areas, said the morning was particularly challenging for elderly and Hispanic voters.

Speaking in broken English, Manuel Matamoros, a middle-aged Hispanic man, said a poll worker declined to help him with comprehension questions about the ballot — assistance he had no trouble getting in 2008.

He said he watched a similar scenario play out with an older woman, who was even less proficient with English. Other elderly voters contemplated leaving because the line was so long, he said.

“These are little things that could make a big difference,” he said, vowing to volunteer at a polling place next election. “I don’t want to get old like that and see no help for me.”

“It was so sad,” another Hispanic voter said. “So much difference last time.”

True the Vote, a Texas-based anti-voter-fraud group, reported the opposite problem: There were no English-language provisional ballots available to voters at a polling place in Santa Fe County, N.M. All available provisional ballots were in Spanish, according to an email from the group.

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