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Proposed bill seeks to eliminate language barriers in the electoral process

The front of a building, surrounded by flags and a clock.
Zoe Malen
The Nevada State Legislature Building

A proposed bill would require local jurisdictions to provide voting materials in other languages.

AB246 seeks to eliminate language barriers in the electoral process.

It would require the Secretary of State to provide election materials in a specific language if there are at least 5,000 residents of voting age who are members of a minority group and have limited English proficiency. It would also establish a toll free telephone number for translation services.

The bill would also create the Language Access Committee, which would be responsible for making annual evaluations and recommendations to improve language access at the ballot box.

“Every Nevandan has a fundamental right to participate in the electoral process, however this right is often restricted for limited English proficient Nevadans and the language barriers that discourage them from participating in the process,” said Assemblywoman Selena Torres, the bill’s primary sponsor.

Under existing law, county and city clerks have the option to provide voting materials in languages other than English if there is “a significant and substantial need”.

Clark County provides election material in Spanish and Tagalog. And last year, Nye County became the first in the nation to offer voting in the Shoshone language.

However, supporters of the bill said there is still a lack of accessibility for those who speak languages like Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Amharic or Thai.

Opponents of the bill argued that the measure would result in an unnecessary cost and any naturalized U.S. citizen should be proficient in basic English.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.
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