- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The secretary of state’s office said Friday it was sending letters to hundreds of voters in response to an inexact translation in voter pamphlets that could lead some to think they are not qualified to vote.

A total of 647 letters were being sent to voters who have been convicted of a misdemeanor and are still under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, David Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kim Wyman, told The Associated Press.

Ammons said only six voters who received a bilingual voter pamphlet were in that category, but the office wanted to ensure all were reminded of their rights.

To vote in Washington state, residents must be 18, a U.S. citizen and state resident, and not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony.

The Seattle Times reported Thursday (https://bit.ly/2eXCcKr) that the English-language pamphlet makes the felony element clear, but the Spanish version translates “felony” as “delito,” a broader term for breaking the law.

Those convicted of a misdemeanor are still eligible to vote, while those under supervision for a felony are not. The state has previously used a more precise translation in voter material.

The Green Party has said the inexact translation amounted to voter suppression and has called on Wyman, a Republican, to issue an apology and a correction.

Ammons said it had been years since the translated pamphlets had been reviewed, so the office sought a fresh translation.

He said the omission of the important modifier was inadvertent but wasn’t caught by Franklin County elections officers or the office’s own minority outreach person. Jessica Wood with Seattle-based Dynamic Translation said that they were looking into the issue.

He said the six voters within the group that might be misled were in the three counties that receive bilingual pamphlets - Franklin, Adams and Yakima.

He apologized for the confusion and disputed allegations that it was an effort at voter suppression, saying “that’s simply not who we are.”

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