October 18, 2018 (Norcross, GA) – GALEO has once again taken steps to ensure all Spanish-speaking residents of Hall County, Georgia are given their federally-protected right to translation services when they exercise their right to vote during this year’s midterm elections.
This week, it came to the attention of GALEO staff that one Spanish-speaking Hall County voter faced discrimination and intimidation at his polling place when he sought his protected right to translation services at the poll.
On Wednesday, October 17, at approximately 4pm, a local Hall County resident, who speaks Spanish as his first language, was seeking to vote early at the Hall County Department of Drivers’ Services, the county’s only early voting location at the time.
The voter overheard two of his fellow voters speaking Spanish and asked one to stand in as his translator so that he could better understand his ballot options. The voter agreed and signed all required oaths in order to help his fellow citizen vote. While speaking Spanish, both voters were verbally attacked by a white female voter, who loudly stated the two were not allowed to use translation help as it was “electioneering.”
When the voters sought help from poll workers, they were instead faced with a County Marshal, who insisted they could not seek translation support until inside the polling place.
With support from ACLU of Georgia, GALEO has contacted both the Secretary of State and Hall County Board of Elections with a request to investigate this incident as quickly as possible. GALEO is also seeking for Hall County to re-train all poll workers to ensure they understand the rights of all voters to bring a translator with them to the polls.
Both offices have responded positively that they will take steps to ensure no more voters face discrimination based on their language preference. Further, the Secretary of State’s office has assigned an investigator to this incident. GALEO expects to cooperate to our fullest ability to ensure an outcome is reached that best serve’s Hall County’s diverse voting population.
Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, added,”Latino voters who need language assistance are protected under the Voting Rights Act Section 208. Voter may receive assistance for language access all through the voting process, including assistance on the voting machines. Any person interfering with that right is in violation of this protection. Re-training of all election workers in Hall County on this protected right should be done immediately.”
Any voter who experiences any problems exercising their right to vote may reach out to GALEO at 1-888-544-2536 (1-888-54GALEO).
WDUN Gainesville (10/19/18):
GALEO accuses Hall County of election intimidation and discrimination
Gainesville Times (10/20/18):
Elections board, Latino political group at odds over translation mix-up at polls: GALEO accuses county of discriminating against Spanish-speaking voter; official says not so, that rule was broken