Translation Help At The Polls: What's Required And How It Works

Nov 5, 2016


Hazel Diaz discusses Election day logistics at a meeting with volunteers for the Lebanon Democratic Committee at Hoss’s Restaurant.
Credit Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

There are requirements at polling places, but help doesn't reach everyone who needs it.

Elections have been hectic for Cesar Liriano for most of the nine years he's lived in the city of Lebanon. Presidential elections are craziest, but he's busy during the lower-turnout local and gubernatorials, too.

"Normally, I get up at 5 o'clock every day, doesn't matter elections or not," Liriano says. "I go down as soon to the polls as soon as they open, I go and vote with my wife, and then I get prepared to be running from one poll to the other."

Liriano, who's from the Dominican Republic, has run for City Council before, as a Democrat, but it's more his role as a community leader that puts him in demand as a translator.

He says he's often summoned to a polling place and arrives to find well-intentioned election workers simply unable to communicate with voters. He says he hasn't always made it before the language barrier discouraged voters away.


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