[act-ma] Civil Rights march and rally rescheduled to Monday

Thomas Chen tchen at riseup.net
Wed Jun 18 10:53:47 PDT 2008

June 18, 2008

Lydia Lowe or Lisette Le (617) 357-4499
Caroline Chang (617) 338-4339
Elaine Ng (617) 635-5129 x1006
Ruth Moy (617) 426-1628

Asian Americans Struggle to Keep Voting Rights

       An African American man could become president, but many of Boston's
Asian American citizens will lose equal access to the vote in this
November's election.

       On June 23, in honor of African American Emancipation Day, the Asian
American community will call for action to protect their voting rights
through a Civil Rights March and Speak-Out, and pay tribute to the
struggles of African Americans, which paved the way for other
communities' voting rights.

Asian American Civil Rights March and Speak-Out
Monday, June 23, 2008
10:00 am - Gather at China Trade Center
10:45 am - Arrive front of State House, 11:00 am - Speak-Out in the Great Hall

Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots, launched by Boston's 2005
agreement with the US Department of Justice, are due to expire in
December of this year.  Chinese-speaking voters lost their voting
rights even earlier, due to Secretary of State William Galvin's
opposition to including candidate names in Chinese characters on the

Chinese transliteration of candidate names has been practiced
successfully in New York for 13 years, as well as for elections in Los
Angeles County, Alameda County, Orange County, San Francisco County,
Santa Clara County, and most recently in the City of Boston in 2007.

Boston City Council voted 13-0 last month on a Home Rule Petition to
extend Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots for Boston voters and
to allow inclusion of candidate names in Chinese characters for a
fully bilingual ballot. The bill is now filed at the State House,
where it needs approval of the legislature and the governor, but less
than two months remain in the formal legislative session.

Bilingual ballots are most needed by the elderly, who have the most
difficulty learning English, and who are allowed to pass the US
citizenship exam in their native language if they have had permanent
residence for upwards of 15 years.  The ballots would be available
only in those neighborhoods where Chinese Americans and Vietnamese
Americans have a concentrated population, and election officials
affirm that the cost is negligible.

This November's election will be the last cycle of Vietnamese
bilingual ballots, but Chinese bilingual ballots will exclude
transliteration of candidate names.  Transliteration is a way of
transferring a word from one writing system into another. Unlike
Spanish or Vietnamese, the Chinese language does not use the Western
alphabet. Without fully bilingual ballots, most elderly Chinese voters
try to find out the order of candidates on the ballot to locate the
candidate of their choice, which may often lead to mistaken votes.
Others rely on a bilingual assistant to accompany them to the voting

"There are so many English names on the ballot, and I get confused,"
says elderly voter Fook Pui Chan, who hopes to vote in the
presidential election. "A ballot that is in Chinese but that doesn't
have the candidates' names in Chinese is useless."

In 2007, when fully bilingual ballots were provided to
Chinese-speaking voters, Asian American voter turnout exceeded the
general turnout for the first time in Boston's history.

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