By David Li, bostonese.com
Boston, July 17, 2014, — After years of hearings and persistent pressure by immigrant groups, including many in Boston Chinatown, Gov. Patrick signed the bilingual ballot bill (H. 4089) into law in Boston Chinatown on Tuesday with about 100 people from the community attending this historical ceremony. This law permanently provides for fully bilingual ballots in the City of Boston.
Gov. Patrick signs the bilingual ballot bill into law in the community room of 38 Oak St. in Boston Chinatown (provided by Chinese Progressive Association, CPA).
The video below is provided by Governor Deval Patrick’s Asian American Commission/Advisory Council (Christina Chan, Chair).
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson also attended the ceremony. Suzanne Lee, Henry Yee and many other long time advocates for the bilingual ballot bill were also on hand to celebration the signing by Gov. Patrick.
The bilingual ballot law has been permanently enacted for Boston voters. In the past, a sunset provision required that the law be revisited, but the Boston Home Rule Petition which passed the legislature will not expire, relying on the trigger of 5 percent of a voting population being of the same language group to require bilingual ballots in that precinct or district.
Gov. Deval Patrick’s Asian American Commission/Advisory Council congratulated the Coalition for Asian American Voting Rights who worked so assiduously to get this bill passed into law. This list below, courtesy of CPA, contains names of organizations and individuals of the coalition.
– Alderwoman Amy Mah Sangiolo, Newton
– American Chinese Christian Educational & Social Services, Inc.
– American Chinese Federation
– Asian American Civic Association
– Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
– Asian American Resource Workshop
– Asian Community Development Corporation
– Asian Pacific American Agenda Coalition
– Blessed Mother Teresa Parish
– Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
– Chinatown Main Street
– Chinatown Resident Association
– Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
– Chinese Historical Society of New England
– Chinese Progressive Association
– Chung Wah Academy
– Dorchester Organizing and Training Initiative (DOT-i)
– Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center
– Hakka Association
– Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund
– Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
– Mass Pike Towers Tenant Association
– Massachusetts Vietnamese American Women’s League
– Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
– New Majority
– ONE Lowell
– Organization of Chinese Americans
– Taishan Association
– Taishan #1 High School Alumni Association
– Tai Tung Village Tenants Association
– Vietnamese American Community of Massachusetts
– Vietnamese American Small Business Association
– Sam Yoon, former Boston City Councilor
Picture from a voting rights march in 2008 (provided by CPA).
Key text of the bill is below (or click this link for full text).
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding section 40 of chapter 54 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, in federal and state elections, the state secretary shall prepare bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese in addition to any other bilingual ballots required by law in the designated polling places within the city as required by section 4.
SECTION 3. Notwithstanding the charter of the city or any other general or special law to the contrary, in all city preliminary and final elections the board shall prepare bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese in addition to any other bilingual ballots required by law in the designated polling places within the city as required by section 4.
SECTION 4. Bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese shall be provided in each polling place in the city where more than 5 per cent of citizens of voting age in the precinct are members of that language minority and are limited-English proficient, as determined by the board, or where the substantial need for such ballots is determined by the board, taking into account objective data obtained from the most recent federal census, city records concerning utilization of or requests for bilingual ballots, and any other demographic information available to the board, including the Lauderdale and Kestenbaum list of surnames. The board shall determine the number of ballots to be provided at each polling place in the city and shall inform the state secretary of the number of the ballots needed prior to each federal and state election by a date specified by the state secretary. Thirty days prior to any primary or election, the board shall inform the city’s Election Advisory Committee and any other bona fide non-profit agency or advocacy organization serving the relevant linguistic minority community that has registered with the board for notification, of the numbers of bilingual ballots and the precincts in which they shall be available.