Colorado rolls out new language assistance hotline to help non-English speaking voters

David Zalubowski/AP Photo
A roll of stickers in English and Spanish awaits distribution to voters dropping their ballots off at the Denver Election Commission, Nov. 8, 2016.

Colorado voters who want or need help with English can access certified translation services for free when they vote in the upcoming midterm elections. 

The Secretary of State’s office has launched a new hotline that allows voters to receive real time translation of their ballot content from a live interpreter. Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Taiwanese and Vietnamese translators are available on call. Other languages are available upon request, according to a release from the office. 

“Voting should be accessible to every Colorado voter,” said Secretary of State Jena Griswold in a statement. “The new Language Assistance Hotline does exactly that.”

Voters can access the hotline from home or at an in-person voting center. 

All the Secretary of State’s office asks is that voters have their ballot with them when they call. After dialing in, users will be patched into a three-way phone conversation with a state or county election worker and a state-certified interpreter fluent in the language they request. 

The hotline only provides translations of ballot content — not for the Blue Book, according to the release. Interpreters can instruct voters on how to fill in ovals or make corrections. They will also be able to explain how people should properly sign and seal their ballots.

An estimated 103,000 registered voters in Colorado speak English “less than very well,” according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. Roughly 82,000 of those voters live in counties where ballots and other election materials aren’t available in languages other than English. 

Democratic lawmakers included funding for the new hotline in a multilingual voting expansion package passed in 2021.

The service will be especially helpful when it comes to interpreting the legal language of ballot measures, said state Sen. Dominick Moreno, one of the law’s sponsors. 

“The hotline will be able to provide audible translations that are often more accessible and culturally relevant than written text,” Moreno said. “That is very helpful for folks.” 

County clerks began mailing ballots to eligible voters for the November midterms on Monday. Early voting begins Oct. 24. 

Voters can find their nearest ballot envelope drop box by visiting the Secretary of State’s website or checking with the local election office. 

People can reach the new hotline by calling 303-860-6970. 

Its hours of operation are: 

  • Oct. 17 - Nov. 4 (8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) 
  • Nov. 7 - 8 (7 a.m. - 7 p.m.)