Hispanic Ctr creates hotline to help Spanish speakers navigate election season

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day and in honor of it, the Hispanic Center created a hotline for Spanish speakers to call and get any questions about the election answered. and voting.

“We understand that registering and confirming your registration, all that jazz around the election, is complicated,” said Holly Rae Clarkson of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan. “Even for English speakers and English readers, it can be complicated and you can get lost. So we found it was really important to really focus on language accessibility and just simplify the process.

Clarkson is the manager of language and workplace development at the Hispanic Center. She said the hotlines — (616) 246-0568 and (616) 246-0562 — opened Tuesday morning and will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“If they prefer to come, we also meet people in person today and in the future, or we can set up appointments. If they want to call, we can also arrange appointments that way,” Clarkson said. “So basically we’re just trying to sort of assess are you registered? Do you have a plan? So we can guide you through every process and step by step.

Plus, it’s not automated, she says. Callers can speak directly to two of their coordinators and ask any question, regardless of their dialect.

She said they would hold other events between now and Election Day to help Latino and Spanish-speaking voters be as informed as possible, such as Q&As with the candidates. The aim is to ensure that voters are informed as much as possible before going to vote.

“We’ve seen especially in the last few years of the pandemic and just kind of a political landscape in our country and in our state how often the Hispanic voice is left out. But they’re one of the first to be affected, mostly in a negative way,” Clarkson said. “So hopefully in a positive way, it’s important for us to really reiterate that this is your chance to speak your mind and really make your voice count.”

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