Lost in translation
A week ago, the McLennan County elections office sent Waco residents vote-by-mail ballots with “useful instructions for voting by mail.” However, upon reading the single page of Spanish instructions, to my dismay I found at least 18 grammar mistakes, nine accent mark mistakes and one spelling error. I shared this problematic document with five of Baylor University’s Spanish master’s degree students; they were convinced the public needed to know about this issue. English speakers would be appalled to find the same number of mistakes on the English voting instructions.
Spanish is spoken by 21.86% of the Waco population, and we believe that Waco’s nearly 40,000 Spanish speakers deserve the same courtesy and attention to detail as our English-speaking population. After reading the Spanish instructions, my students and I have several questions. First, was the Spanish document a first draft mailed by mistake? While we hope this is the case, we also know that someone at the Texas Secretary of State’s Office likely deemed this document as “good enough” and approved the mailing to go out (and be subsequently mailed by duty-bound local election administrators). Second, why did someone not proofread the instructions before they were mailed? Finally, if Secretary of State Ruth Hughs’ staff lacked sufficient funds to hire a translator, why did no one reach out to one of the many citizens of our state literate in both Spanish and English who would happily look over a one-page document for free?
We appreciate attention to this matter and do not wish to shame anyone or get anyone into trouble. However, we believe that sending out such flawed instructions only makes it more confusing for voters in our county. If we want Spanish-speaking voters to participate in democracy, we must give them the respect they deserve.
Linda McManness, Spanish 5359 Class, Baylor University
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. McManness tells us that she has sent the McLennan County Elections Commission a corrected version of the Spanish instructions. Hopefully, the board will forward this to Secretary of State Ruth Hughs for future elections. Our best to Ms. McManness and her students.
Sign of the times
I am a candidate for Waco mayor. My campaign depends on donations from local citizens and friends and family. My yard signs are from a local printing company. I might be able to buy them cheaper elsewhere, but I am investing in Waco. Each yard sign costs about $7. About 70% of my signs have gone missing. A few might have ended up in the bedroom of some kid named Dave. But 70 of 100 signs disappearing?
Yard signs during elections are a form of free speech. If you know anyone stealing or destroying my campaign signs, please ask them to stop. I will win or lose on the issues. Attacking free speech is un-American and inherently unfair. I do not think my opponent would condone this behavior, either. We have each pledged to run a clean campaign. I urge every Wacoan to consider the issues and above all, vote!