OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The secretary of state's office will be sending letters to hundreds of voters in response to an inexact translation in voter pamphlets that could lead to some to think they are not qualified to vote.
David Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kim Wyman, told The Associated Press Friday that 647 letters were being sent to voters who have been convicted of a misdemeanor and are still under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
Ammons said while only six voters who received a bilingual voter pamphlet were in that category, the office wanted to ensure all were reminded of their rights.
“The Secretary of State’s Office concurs that there was a translation error," said Dave Ammons.
“We are not a voter suppression state," said Ammons. "We value all of our minority language voters.”
"Communities of color and Latino voters, in particular, deserve an apology and clarification from Secretary of State Wyman for her Office's careless translation, which creates uncertainty among voters about their eligibility to vote,” said a spokesperson from One America Votes, an immigrant rights group.
In order to vote in Washington state, residents must be 18, a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident and not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony. The Seattle Times reported Thursday that unlike in the English-language pamphlet, which makes the felony element clear, the Spanish version translates "felony" as "delito," a broader term for breaking the law.
Those convicted of a misdemeanor are still eligible to vote, while those under supervision for a felony are not, and the state has previously used a more precise translation in voter material.