Concerns Over Latino Ballots Being Rejected In Washington State Elections

Ballots are processed at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton for Washington state’s presidential primary election on March 10, 2020. Elections workers were required to wear gloves at the time to due to COVID-19, but that was well before the masks were in use in non-medical settings. CREDIT: Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut
Concerns are being raised about the number of ballots from Latino voters being rejected during elections in Washington State / CREDIT: Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut


NWPB’s Dori Luzzo Gilmour reports on concerns about the number of ballots from Latino voters being rejected / Runtime – 1:07


Benton County is one of three counties in Washington state that are being sued by an organization that says Latino votes are being rejected. The Benton County Auditor says that they are working on improving their systems and are confident they are not discriminating against Latinos.`

An analysis released last year by Investigate West found that Latino voters were rejected at four times the rate of other voters. Benton County is named in the lawsuit filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens or LULAC.

Brenda Chilton is the Benton County Auditor and explained that the County recently went through an audit conducted by the State Auditor’s office. 

“The results of the performance audit was that there was no indication that there were discriminatory practices, causing ballots to be rejected due to individuals having Latino sounding surnames or other ethic sounding surnames,” she said. 

Younger voters and Latinos are mostly rejected because of signature issues said Chilton. She explained that if a ballot is rejected, by law, they are required to send a cure letter within a day. The letter explains what was wrong with the ballot and how to fix it. 

“Second language voters as well as younger voters…we are looking at how we can improve the process for them. For the Latino voters we are going to send the cure letter, so when your signature is challenged, we send a letter, so we are going to send, now send those letters in both English and Spanish.” 

A ballot is only rejected after it has been through many steps of review. The lawsuit by LULAC is still pending.