Salt Lake County says ballots now available in Spanish

Posted at 5:01 PM, Sep 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-20 02:30:31-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Salt Lake County Officials announced that ballots will now be available not just in English, but also in Spanish. Utah's Hispanic community is applauding the decision, but one Utah lawmaker calls it discriminatory.

Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, argues if you're going to provide voter information and ballots in Spanish, then why not in other languages like Sudanese or Chinese? The Utah lawmaker not only thinks its prejudiced, but believes the decision is politically motivated and may even violate state law.

"Salt Lake County will be providing voter information in both English and Spanish," said Salt Lake County Mayor Corroon during a news conference on Wednesday. Archie Archuleta with the Utah Coalition of La Raza congratulated the county and said Corroon is a champion for voter access.

"When states all over the country are limiting the access to voting, here are champions that keep it open and the state as well," says Archuleta.

Rep. Chris Herrod, a strict enforcement advocate against illegal immigrations, calls the decision prejudiced.

"I do think it's discriminatory against the Ukrainian immigrants or the Vietnamese immigrants; why aren't we printing ballots in their languages," asks Herrod.

The Utah lawmaker also argues there's no need for ballots to be printed in Spanish because anyone who is voting is a U.S. Citizen and is expected to know the English language.

"It's not like somebody can't perform this function," Rep. Herrod goes on.

Harrod also questions the legality. Utah passed a law making English the state's official language about a decade ago. The statute says information can be provided in other languages when it comes to educational material, promoting tourism and economic development among other things, but Herrod thinks election material is off limits.

However, federal law supersedes state law.

"Under the 1975 revision of the Voting Rights Act people of the non-English speaking populations reach a certain level have to provide voting material in alternate languages," says Mayor Corroon.

Rep. Herrod is also suspicious the Salt Lake County Mayoral race may have something to do with this, saying gaining the Hispanic vote will help Ben McAdams, the Democratic candidate.

McAdams told Fox 13, "Anything that can encourage greater voter turnout is important and while he's honored to have the support of Mayor Corroon, voters are going to make up their minds based on who the candidates are."