The U.S. Justice Department said that it would monitor the Alaskan ranked-choice primary elections on Tuesday in certain jurisdictions to ensure compliance with voting rights laws for minority languages and disabilities.
The effort is to make sure the elections are administrated according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Alaska is one of two states holding primary elections on Tuesday. On election day, officials from the department’s Civil Rights Division monitored Anchorage; Juneau; and Bethel, Dillingham, and Kusilvak census areas.
Alaskan Native Language RulesAlaska has 14 census areas where language assistance is required by law in at least one native Alaskan language.
As a result of an extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1975, Congress mandated that political subdivisions also provide voting in minority languages.
The Justice Department’s compliance effort aims to ensure Alaskans who primarily speak a native language aren’t in any way disenfranchized during the voting process.
However, during the 2016 Alaskan primary elections federal officials found deficiencies in training for poll workers.
According to the report, poll worker trainings were “conducted exclusively in English by a non-Native instructor from the Division of Elections” and “bilingual poll workers were not trained on how to translate contents of the ballot or how to provide procedural instructions in Yup’ik and Gwich’in.”