Analysis

Election Tools for a Multilingual Electorate

Twenty-one percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home, and some state and local election offices have developed multilingual election tools to serve this population.

  • The New York City Board of Elections’ polling place look-up tool is available in Bengali, Chinese, English, Korean, and Spanish. It provides information on ballots and candidates as well as the hours and accessibility of polling places. According to the Department of City Planning, half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home, a proportion that is more than twice the national average.
  • Hawaii’s polling place locator is available in Chinese, English, Japanese, and Tagalog. It supplies voters with polling place information and a sample ballot.
  • California offers online voter registration in 10 languages: Chinese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Using the Voting Information Project’s Short Message Service, voters can text “VOTE” in English and eight other languages—Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese—to 69520 and receive voting information. The project’s voting information tool is also available in these nine languages for desktop and mobile devices.

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