SB 251

84(R) - 2015
Senate State Affairs
Senate State Affairs

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Neutral


Rodney Ellis

Bill Caption

Relating to eligibility to serve as an interpreter in an election.

Fiscal Notes

No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated. 

Bill Analysis

This legislation would adjust the language of the Elections Code to make no distinction between "assistant" and "interpreter" in regard to assistance to someone who is voting. However, they cannot be the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs. This legislation does add the ability for an interpreter to be utilized if they are a registered voter of an adjacent county. 

Vote Recommendation Notes

As it stands, Election Judges, Alternate Judges, Election Clerks, and other polling place officials and volunteers must be registered voters in the county in which they serve. To make an exception for a language interpreter (or to make an interpreter similar to a voter assistant) could open to the door to costly litigation.

Why the state should make an exception for interpreters and not other actors in a polling place is an important question, but a potentially expensive one for the courts and administrators to answer. 

It could be argued that nearby, rural counties lack human resources other than language interpreters. For example, sparsely populated counties adjacent to a large metropolitan area may lack the number of available, skilled, and qualified candidates to serve as election judges and clerks. They may also lack the resources and skills necessary to thoroughly train election workers on HAVA-compliant voting devices, making recruitment across the county lines all the more attractive.

A limited government must also be a consistent government that treats its people and subdivisions equally. The remedy for unequal treatment is, of course, the legal system. We must also consider the costs of administrative hearings and procedures related to the subject. In the interests of controlling the cost of litigation and the burden on elections administration, we oppose SB 251.