How Can You Reach LEP Voters?

All U.S. states have a primary election this summer or fall before the November general election, which is why now is the time to start thinking about translation requirements! Local laws determine when county elections offices must print and distribute their voter materials. For many counties, these materials need to be ready a few weeks before Election Day, for both primary and general elections. 

This includes facsimile ballots, voter information guides, candidate statements, and all other written materials that provide eligible residents with the information necessary for casting their vote.

As you prepare to address these translation needs, here are four questions to ask yourself and your organization:

Are you reaching immigrants who are approaching their legal voting age?

As the population of immigrants who meet the legal voting age grows, the need for election materials in languages other than English increases. China and India are now the top sources of new immigrants, according to These two countries have replaced Mexico, which held the top slot for decades.

California translates its election documents into nine languages, including Chinese. Alaska now has a growing Tagalog-speaking Filipino population, which demands translation services beyond native language requirements. Meanwhile, several Texas counties have significant Vietnamese populations, and New York has a large base of Haitian Creole-speaking voters.

Are you using the right translation tool for the job?

Advanced technology like Machine Translation (MT) is unsuitable for the highly regulated, visible, and specialized content used during election season. Take for example the Google Translate Spanish rendition of the well-known phrase “Let’s Vote” as “El voto de Let.” This translation fails to recognize any context or localized usage of the original expression, and creates a meaning that is inaccurate.

This is just one of many issues that arise when using MT to translate election content. For instance, did you know it’s illegal in most states to use machine translation for official elections documentation? Fortunately, computer-aided translation (CAT) tools are an option. These tools are used to translate large volumes of official election documents with fast turnaround times. They also allow better quality translation at a lower cost. 

The difference between using CAT tools and MT to translate official US election documents is human intervention. Humans are superior to computers when it comes to translation because we can recognize things like context, nuance, common usage, and culturally appropriate details. Professional translators regularly produce more accurate, readable, and compliant election material translations than machines. They are able to deliver these materials on time by using CAT tools, style guides, and other linguistic assets. Unlike machines, human translation teams follow a 3-step process that includes quality assurance, such as editing and proofreading.

Are you reaching LEP Asian and Pacific Islanders this election season?

This election season, many campaigns are looking at Asian Americans as a key voter group. The number of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters almost doubled from 2 million in 2000 to 3.9 million in 2012. What’s more, almost half (47%) of AAPIs do not associate with a political party.

To reach Asian American and Pacific Islander voting groups, all campaign materials need complete translation. More than 39% of AAPIs are limited English proficient (LEP) voters. Voters identified as LEP who receive voting information only in English will understand less than half of the written text. English-only marketing materials on candidates and ballot measures leave a large population of voters entirely in the dark.

Are you prepared to handle necessary elections translations?

Candidate statements, voter instructions, and voter information require accurate translation. One wrong word, sentence fragment, or phrase can change the entire meaning of a sentence. This can negatively impact the candidate’s message, as well as hinder voter understanding and participation.

Avantpage provides expert elections translation across the country. We have assisted many California counties with translation, editing, formatting, and preparation of election documents and voter materials. These documents include Voter Information Guides, Candidate Statements, Ballot Measures, Voter Information Cards, Registration Cards, Ballots, and more.

At Avantpage our experienced team can help guide you through the translation process and make it fast and easy. To find out more about our services call us at 530-750-2040 x11, or request a free quote.