Gov. Patrick to Sign Bilingual Ballot Law in Boston Chinatown

By the Chinese Progressive Association

Governor Deval Patrick will sign An Act Relative to the Preparation of Certain Bilingual Ballots in the City of Boston on Tuesday, July 15, 11:45 am before members of the Chinese Progressive Association, the Chinatown Resident Association, and other community members in the Metropolitan Community Room at 38 Oak Street. This event is open to the public.
Elected officials and members of CPA and CRA pose for a picture when a bilingual ballot bill passed MA Senate in July 2010 (file photo).

The Chinese Progressive Association and Chinese Progressive Political Action have supported many coalition efforts to pass state legislation that would benefit community members, and recently five of these efforts have scored victories!

The Chinese and Vietnamese 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 on Thursday 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.

The Chinese community began organizing to demand bilingual ballots in 2003 following allegations of voter coercion within the polls by some elderly Chinese-speaking voters. After an investigation and lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice against the City of Boston in 2005, Boston launched Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots through a Home Rule Petition that required state legislative approval. The bilingual ballot provision has expired twice, most recently in December of 2013.
Members of CPA joined voting rights march to MA State House in 2008 (file photo).

Other recent legislative victories for which the community has advocated include:
• Massachusetts minimum wage was raised by a dollar a year, to reach $11 per hour by January 1, 2017. The minimum wage for tipped workers will increase from $2.63 to $3.75 during this period.
• $300,000 was allocated from the state budget to keep JobNet, a one-stop career center located at 210 South Street, open for service this year. Many Chinese workers are accustomed to going to JobNet for unemployment insurance and career services.
• Elderly home care workers advocated for and won money to be allocated to the Community First Trust Fund in order to provide adequate funding for a 75-cent raise for workers.
• Nannies, caregivers and housekeepers won a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights that established basic labor standards for this often exploited group.