DENVER, CO– HB20-1081, sponsored by Representative Yadira Caraveo, today passed the House Committee on State, Veteran, and Military Affairs by a vote of 6-3.
“It’s essential for our democracy that every citizen in our state have the ability to understand their ballots,” said Rep. Caraveo (D- Thornton). “This bill will make ballot access easier for Coloradans across the state while placing only minimal responsibilities on our local governments.”
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 100,000 Colorado voters who speak English “less than very well,” and over 80,000 of them live in counties where ballots and other election materials are not available in languages other than English. Ballots are often difficult for minority language speakers to comprehend, even if they do speak and read some English. 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 across the state who speak English “less than very well.”