Eagle County to offer ballots in Spanish

Veronica WhitneyVail Correspondent

When Spanish-speaking voters get to the polls this election, theyll find some help ballots in Spanish. Eagle County officials have decided to add ballots in Spanish for this election.Its only fair and reasonable that I address the needs of all Eagle County citizens, not just the English speaking, especially when the Spanish-speaking community is increasing within the county, said Teak Simonton, the county clerk and recorder. One-quarter of the more than 40,000 residents in Eagle County are Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2000 census.All state amendments and referendums and all special district and municipal referendums will be available in Spanish on a separate ballot. These ballots will be available at all polling locations.We dont know how many of our registered voters are more comfortable reading a ballot in Spanish than in English, Simonton said. We dont know how many citizens we have who may not have registered to vote because they didnt speak English.Juan Martinez, the director of the former Hispanic group La Mesa, said many Hispanics who are voting for the first time can get confused with the ballots and the election process.When my brother (Rene Martinez) was running for Town Council two years ago, many people who were new citizens and had never voted had problems because they didnt know the system, Martinez said. Many had problems voting, and others had to ask many questions. I think a ballot in Spanish will attract more people to vote.This year will be a test to see how much participation there is with the ballots in Spanish, Simonton said.Theres no data out there that tells us how many registered voters are Spanish speaking, Simonton said. That (information) isnt required to register to vote.Vail Daily staff writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at