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Helping Hispanic Voters in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Last year, the Springfield Election Office received complaints that they weren’t doing enough to help minority voters — specifically Spanish-speaking residents.

This year, election officials want to make sure they don’t hear those same complaints again.

“I think the buzzword I would use is ‘extra,’ we’ve decided to have extra everything — poll workers, extra prep time before the election, extra materials at the polling places,” says Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola. “And we are asking the voters to give themselves extra time.”

It’s the only way you can truly prepare for the 54,000 registered voters who are expected to cast their ballots in Springfield tomorrow — especially after a city councilor accused the election office of not doing enough to help Latino voters during last year’s primary.

But today, we spoke with some Spanish-speaking Springfield residents who say, that’s simply not true.

“There is always someone Hispanic who helps with orientation and helps us with instructions in Spanish,” says Edith Cruz.

Xiomara Serrano adds, “They explain and advise, and I recommend that people go to vote tomorrow because all Hispanics depend on those votes, it’s really important.”

“We obviously have poll workers on hand that speak Spanish, that speak English,” says Oyola. “In some locations, we have Vietnamese poll workers as well, and those poll workers are educated and very available to help the voter.”

You can also bring a friend or family member to help make sense of some of those more complex ballot questions.

“The state of Massachusetts allows, by law, any ‘assistor’ of choice,” says Oyola. “So any person who feels like they need assistance can bring someone with them.”

Because this year’s ballot includes three very detailed ballot questions, election officials say it will probably take everyone a little longer to cast their vote.

If possible, try to vote in the late morning or early afternoon, when the polls will be less crowded.

Several polling places have also changed since the last presidential election. To find your polling place, go to www.wheredoivotema.com

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