Photo: ABC News
Spanish-language voter documents circulated in Arizona this week told voters that Election Day was November 8, while the English version of these same documents correctly listed the date as the 6th.Election officials in Maricopa County have brushed the slip-up off as “an honest mistake,” claiming that out of nearly two million cards mailed out, only 50 contained the error.
Maricopa County is Arizona’s most populous county and the centre of longstanding tension between Latinos and county officials.
Immigration laws in Arizona are some of the country’s strictest, with the recent implementation of its “papers please” provision of the SB 1070 law. Additionally, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being tried in a class-action lawsuit for civil rights and constitutional violations against Hispanics.
With Election Day around the corner, voter ID laws around the country have been intensely scrutinized by Democrats. This incident only serves to deepen concerns regarding voter suppression, leading many to believe that Republicans in many states are conspiring to deny particular citizens their constitutional right to vote.
But Latino organisations weren’t too pleased with the incident.
“This “mistake” sends the wrong message to hundreds of our volunteers who are working hard to strengthen our democracy, and to the over 34,000 new voters they registered,” Petra Falcon, executive director of the immigration reform group Promise Arizona in Action, told Business Insider. “Imagine going to the polls as a new voter, only to find out they closed two days earlier. We essentially tell our citizens: their voice does not matter here in Arizona. As a democracy, we cannot afford to make these types of ‘mistakes’. “
Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, said that it was a setback for voter outreach, but that his group would continue to try and get Spanish-speaking voters to the polls on the correct day.
“Regardless of whether this incident was intentional or not, it means that organisations like the NALEO Educational Fund will need to work even harder to ensure that Latinos in the Maricopa community have the information necessary to cast their ballots on Election Day,” he told Business Insider.
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