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Ballots to Stay English-only, For Now


Sixteen Colorado counties will print ballots in English only for this November’s election, after a federal mandate to have them printed in both English and Spanish failed to materialize in time.

The U.S. Census Bureau has the final say as to whether areas will have to print dual-language ballots – but as of this Wednesday, the federal government hadn’t yet notified Colorado. That left counties like Arapahoe, Adams and Weld in limbo. 

The state deadline to certify ballots for overseas and military voters was last Friday, so Secretary of State Scott Gessler had little choice but to move forward.

“We have a statewide issue on the ballot; you add into that budget issues that each of the counties is facing, so they didn’t want to get too far ahead of themselves in providing this if they didn’t have to,” says Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State. “So it certainly was a challenge, but the counties worked very hard in order to have contingencies in place - just in case the word came out last week.”

Although the deadline has passed, Coolidge says clerks in the 16 affected counties are working on contingency plans to help Spanish-language voters. That could involve printing Spanish-language ballots on an as-needed basis, or having interpreters available at polling locations. Eight Colorado counties already print ballots in both English and Spanish.