Federal observers monitor bilingual voting in Cuyahoga County

CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County poll workers had company at several west side polling locations Tuesday. 

Federal observers were back in Cleveland to monitor eight  locations with large numbers of Hispanic voters to ensure that they are being afforded access to the voting booth.

"As far as I'm aware, we are in compliance," said Pat McDonald, director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Cuyahoga County agreed in a 2010 consent decree with the federal government to make voting accommodations for the growing population of Puerto Rican voters. Those accommodations include bilingual ballots and other election literature, signs, and poll workers.

"A lot of the folks that I know speak English, but they don't always understand some of the terms that are used on a lot of these ballots," said Blanca Salva, who was born in Puerto Rico. "I think it's important that we make everyone feel comfortable and if that means providing some literature in their native language, I don't see a problem with that."

McDonald said the federal observers were also in Cuyahoga County for the 2012 presidential election.

However, the county's efforts didn't appear to have much impact on voter turnout Tuesday. At one heavily Hispanic polling location in Ward 14, only 62 people had voted by mid-afternoon.

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