In Little Havana, Some Voters Complain Of Not Enough Spanish-Speaking Poll Workers

Nov 8, 2016
Originally published on November 9, 2016 9:13 am

Some South Florida voters took to social media to complain that there weren't enough Spanish speakers working at the polls in neighborhoods that needed them the most.

Roger Lords was voting at Precinct 669 in  Little Havana at  Miami Central Seventh Day Adventist Church when he noticed that older voters were asking  poll workers questions in Spanish and the questions were not being answered adequately. He posted to social media about it and WLRN received the tip through ProPublica's ElectionLand Project

"There was no help, no explanation," said Lords. "So they ended up filling the first bubble they see, which happens to be all Republican candidates ... as a Latino and a gay man that is worrisome."

Lords took it upon himself to serve as a translator for an elderly woman who didn't speak English very well.

"I told her I would be honest and truthful to her and she made her choices," he said.

"This is a big concern for me. No one in this poll station speaks proper  Spanish."

Lords said he called the Miami-Dade election's department to advise them that there were not enough speakers and he said the response was "they would look into it."

Andrea Muñiz, a spokesperson with the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections' Office, said, "In all of Miami-Dade County precincts there are poll workers that speak Spanish. In all of them, but especially in Little Havana."

But outside  the church where people had just voted, Leida Gonzalez also said there were not enough poll workers who spoke Spanish.

"There was one person that spoke Spanish, one lady. The others spoke English," said Gonzalez, 73 years old, who went to vote with her partner, Oscar Rubio, 73.

"Many of the poll workers were speaking English," said Rubio. "We were able to vote with the lady that speaks Spanish, but it would be better if they could put more people that speak Spanish."

By comparison, in Hialeah there seemed no be no issues with Spanish-speaking poll workers.

At the John F. Kennedy Regional Library in Hialeah, the poll supervisor (she refused to give her name) laughed when asked whether  the workers in those precincts speak Spanish.

"Everybody speaks Spanish here except for one person," she said.

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