The state of Alaska is claiming it does not have to provide voting ballots and other election materials in Yup’ik as well as English to residents of the Bethel area.
State attorneys argued their case Wednesday before U.S. District Court Judge Tim Burgess in Anchorage. The Native American Rights Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of Yup’ik elders and four tribal councils in Western Alaska.
They claim the state and the city of Bethel are violating federal voting laws by failing to provide election materials in Yup’ik. The state responded that Yup’ik is historically an unwritten language and therefore exempt from written translation requirements.
Lawyers for Bethel said the city does a good job of providing translators instead.