Multilingual Ballot Access Bill Passes House

DENVER, CO– The House today voted to pass HB20-1081, Representative Yadira Caraveo’s bill to allow multilingual ballot access, by a vote of 41-20. The bill would ensure that counties with significant minority language speakers provide voters in these communities with ballots in their own languages.

“A strong democracy depends on well-informed voters, and this bill will ensure that all Coloradans can fully understand their ballots,” said Rep. Caraveo (D- Thornton). “Improving ballot access and bringing more people into the democratic process while placing minimal responsibilities on our local governments is a resounding win for Colorado.”

The bill establishes a hotline run by the Secretary of State’s office to provide access to ballot translation and requires the Secretary of State’s office to have the hotline available for the November 2022 election and for every general election and statewide odd-year election thereafter. County clerks are to make available minority language sample ballots when a language is spoken by at least 2,000 or 2.5 percent citizens of voting age who speak English “less than very well” in a county. These sample ballots would be available in-person beginning in November 2022 and for every general election and statewide odd-year election thereafter. 

There are over 80,000 Colorado voters who speak English “less than very well.”. Ballots are often difficult for minority language speakers to comprehend, even if they do speak and read some English. The United States has no official language. The federal Voting Rights Act only requires the counties of Conejos, Costilla, Denver, and Saguache provide election materials in both English and Spanish, limiting ballot access for Coloradans who are eligible to vote across the state who speak English “less than very well.”