washingtonpost.com  > Opinion > Letters to the Editor

The Registration Challenge

Monday, August 9, 2004; Page A14

The Aug. 2 new story about delays in posting a national Spanish-language voter registration form on the Internet ["Plan to Ease Voter Registration for Spanish Speakers Stalled"] left me baffled. Why would it take a 33-page form to register to vote? The article didn't explain.

I found the details, though, in the registration documents posted at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Web site at www.eac.gov.

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The form isn't 33 pages. It's just one page. The Voter Registration Application form itself -- that is, the part that the prospective voter fills out -- has nine questions that apply to most citizens and four that cover special situations.

The 33-page document the article referred to includes two copies of this form, plus two reverse-side pages that turn the form into a postcard mailer if the document is printed double-sided. The cover consists of one page, and there are two pages of general instructions.

The challenge to translators was obviously the 26 pages of state-by-state instructions. Since state laws might have changed since the translation project began in January, direct involvement by the states would seem necessary to ensure that the instructions stay up-to-date.



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