Who monitors ballot help for non-English speakers?

  • Blog Post by:
  • November 6, 2012 - 10:33 AM

Bruce Lundeen, a Republican election judge at at Seward Square Apartments in Minneapolis, was perturbed this morning by the sight of a Somali election judge instructing a group of Somali voters -- in Somali .

There's no indication the man was doing anything but instructing the voters on the contents of the ballot, but Lundeen doesn't know for sure because he doesn't speak Somali.

"They told me he was a trained election judge, so he knows what he’s supposed to do or not do," Lundeen said. "But not having any authority in the language, I didn’t think it was right for me to stand there and be representing the other party when I had no understanding of what was going on."

State statute says:

  • You have the right to request special assistance when voting.
  • If you need assistance, you may be accompanied into the voting booth by a person of your choice, except by an agent of your employer or union or a candidate.

I'm waiting for an opinion from the secretary of state's office on whether that help can be given in a group.

Lundeen, a recent GOP candidate for the Minnesota Senate, left his post in anger, but said he thought he probably would return this morning.

Please call 612-673-4409 or email with tips.

Update:  From Pat Turgeon, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Secretary of State's office: 

"Election judges are trained officials sworn to uphold elections. If they are in a voting booth with a voter they must be accompanied by another judge. If the judge is providing instructions outside of a voting booth they would be providing general voting information and that is OK."


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