Translation as we talk about it, its applicability is seen important in every activity conducted that involves a majority of people from different corners of  the world speaking different languages and dialects. Translation can mean communication in simple terms because it involves translating information from one language to another.

Coming to the election activity or exercise in any country in the world, indeed, translation is necessary and should not be ignored. This is an exercise that different individuals speaking different languages participate in including educated and non-educated, the lame, deaf except the blind people. The government must, therefore, make sure that all people participate regardless of their education status, abilities and language differences. We are aware that in a country, people speak different languages and when printing and processing election materials, they can either be in English or any other government official language.

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You may find the big number of voters in a country are limited English speakers and therefore have a problem in reading, these people need assistance during this election process. This is where translation and interpretation come in to assist the electorate not only translating election documents from English to one language, but to various languages spoken by the people who are involved in elections including the immigrants who may also participate in the voting process.

Election materials that may need translation

During the electoral process, there are vital documents that need to be translated such as;

  • Ballot papers
  • Election register’s books
  • Voters identity cards
  • And etc.

The electoral commission of any country must hire bilingual poll workers who will help non-English speakers or non-speakers of the country’s national language, the deaf group to provide translation services or interpreting services were applicable to avoid confusion that may erupt during the voting process, at times there is a group of people who may start intimidating those who can’t read a ballot paper by misguiding them, this role could be for a translator or an interpreter, for example, someone may fail to read the word “vote” or understand its meaning in his or her native language and may need guidance, an interpreter should be available, otherwise, that vote might be wasted

Translation solves a problem of language because different words have different meanings in different languages, therefore, when hiring a translator or an interpreter to cater for election translation or interpreting services, the first thing is to identify the number of people who may need translation or interpretation into their different native languages during the process, then get professional native speaking translators of different respective languages identified, for they understand all nuances involved in their languages and know the meaning of symbols in their respective languages and different parties have different symbols, the hired translator should be able to translate those symbols such that the voter can understand. For instance, the way a symbol for “tick” appears on the ballot paper in the English language, may appear differently in French, German, Italian, or Afrikaans language  and they may mean something different than “tick” the translator should be aware of the different meanings that one symbol may have in different languages.

How can electoral commission in a country ensure that all people vote successfully without language difficulty? Or where can the government get translators or interpreters who will help to provide translation and interpretation services for elections?

The answer to these questions is simple, there a number of translation agencies that provide translation for a multitude of sectors in business in different languages, they work with very many translators and interpreters specializing in different translation fields and provide translation in their respective native languages. So it will depend on which language does electoral commission needs its translator or an interpreter. If the electoral commission works with one of these translation agencies then it will conduct its elections successfully without language problems because translation or interpretation is the only solution to language barriers.

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