County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said the county successfully implemented the U.S. Justice Department mandate in June's primary election. Her office hired 127 bilingual poll workers to staff polling places identified by the census as having a high percentage of Spanish-speaking residents and also had staff members in the clerk's office who were available to answer questions.
Because turnout for the general election is expected to be much higher than the low-participation primary, Swensen said she is looking for more bilingual poll workers. Spanish-speaking individuals interested in this job should contact her office, she added.
The county's willingness to carry out the federal requirement pleased Archie Archuleta, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza.
He noted that Corroon and Swensen conferred with local Latino leaders to find the best way to implement the mandate, calling them "two champions of the right to vote." Archuleta, who also spoke in English and Spanish, encouraged Latinos to "take advantage" of the county's effort. "Please, dare to vote."
Swensen said the language requirement cost the county "several hundred thousand dollars." But expenses were held down, she added, because a bilingual member of her staff translated voter information and ballot language into Spanish.
In addition, hiring bilingual poll workers was not an extra expense. Poll workers were needed at those sites anyway, Swensen said, and the ability to speak a second language was just another desired job skill.
Bilingual poll workers
Persons interested in working at the Nov. 6 polls should contact the clerk's office online at clerk.slco.org/ or call 385-468-7400.