The Spanish language instructions on city of Hartford ballots for the November election included an error, but officials say they’ve fixed it.
The translation in the ballot failed to accurately convey the meaning of the original voting instructions, State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez said. That could potentially lead to confusion and misinterpretation among Spanish-speaking voters, she said.
“In English it would say ‘turn the ballot over and vote on both sides.’ And then in Spanish it was horrible, you couldn’t understand the translation,” Gonzalez said. “It was really bad and people were complaining.”
Gonzalez, president of the Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus, sent a letter to the Connecticut Secretary of the State earlier this week regarding the concerns raised by voters in Hartford about the Spanish translation.
“It is not only irresponsible, but inconceivable that in this day and age an official government ballot is printed with instructions that are incoherent,” Gonzalez wrote in the letter. “This mistake needs to be corrected and the ballots need to be reprinted or Spanish speaking voters will be confused.”
Noel McGregor, the town clerk of the the city of Hartford, acknowledged the error, and said it has been fixed for the Nov. 7 general election. They’re providing an additional piece of paper with the ballot that includes correct instructions in Spanish.
McGregor said the city understands the importance of clear and accurate translations for the Spanish-speaking community, and is determined to provide a democratic process for all.
“We have made sure that those inserts have been placed in the ballots so that everyone will be able to understand,” McGregor said. “Those corrections have been made, and everyone is aware and is no longer an issue.”
In her letter, Gonzalez emphasized the importance of ensuring fair access to the electoral process for all citizens, regardless of language barriers. She urged the Secretary of the State to rectify the issue and ensure that Spanish-speaking voters are able to vote without any hindrances.
The Secretary of the State’s office does not have oversight over municipalities’ ballots, said Tara Chozet, an office spokesperson. Since the issue has been addressed, the office is committed to ensuring a fair and just voting process in accordance with the law, she said.
“The responsibility of ballots are at a local level,” Chozet said. “So we’ve been working with the city of Hartford, and we did ask them to reprint the ballot and we gave them a recommendation of language.”
Gonzalez said she will be discussing the matter at a Hispanic representatives meet and greet event on Saturday at Mi Casa Wellness Center on Park Street. Gonzalez hopes to gather feedback and suggestions on how to improve the translation process for future elections.
This story was first published Oct. 19, 2023 by Connecticut Public. Note: The headline and story have been updated to clarify that the ballot included an error in Spanish, not several errors.