Santa Ana, California – Orange County is making it easier for non-English speaking communities to exercise their right to vote.
This election, the Orange County Registrar of Voters has dramatically improved the delivery times for non-English vote-by-mail ballots, providing Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Tagalog and Farsi speakers more time to review their election materials. In previous elections, non-English voters waited nearly two weeks longer than English speakers to receive their ballots.
“Every voter deserves to be treated equally,” said OC Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do, who first inquired about the delay in non-English ballots. “I commend OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley for once again setting the standard for how to administer free and fair elections.”
Nearly two-thirds of Orange County voters will receive vote-by-mail ballots. Of the nearly one million vote-by-mail ballots distributed to Orange County voters this election, 60,125 ballots are in languages other than English.
Why Non-English Ballots Take Longer to Distribute
After election contests are finalized, election staff get to work assembling ballot information. In less than two weeks, election officials in Orange County – along with their counterparts throughout the state -- must translate, proof, and set-up ballot materials in as many as 8 different languages.
To prepare non-English language ballots, election officials must employ certified court translators and finesse election software programs that are primarily designed for English-language characters. The longer the ballot, the more time it takes to translate and prepare election information for non-English language ballots.
This election, non-English language ballots will be distributed within 48 to 72 hours of English-language ballots. In prior elections, including the 2018 June Primary Election, the delay was as high as 14 days.
“Orange County has made it a priority to reduce the ballot translation delay,” said Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley. “We improved the proofing process, streamlined our ballot assembly system, and sped up the printing with our new in-house platform.”
“Translating ballots takes time,” Kelley added, “but we want that process to be as fast possible – while ensuring accuracy.”
By the Numbers: Non-English Language Ballots
Farsi (Persian): 5