Victory for Boston Asian American Voting Rights!

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Press Release from CPA Boston

After two years of lobbying and advocacy, the bill for Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots in the City of Boston has been passed by both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Deval Patrick, who has promised to sign the bill. It would take in affect in January 2011. 

The bill applies only to elections held in the City of Boston, but includes elections at the municipal, state and federal level. Chinese/English and Vietnamese/English bilingual ballots would be available in those precincts where the linguistic population is concentrated. 

"This is a very happy occasion. When bilingual ballots ended in 2008, we were at a loss. We have been fighting for so long. We will be able to vote easily now, without fear of making mistakes. This victory would not have been possible without voters organizing. I'd like to thank all of the supporters of the bilingual ballots," says voter activists Dan Xin Chen. 

Boston launched Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots through an agreement with the US Department of Justice in 2005, but the agreement expired in 2008. Since then, the Coalition for Asian American Voting rights have been tirelessly advocating for bilingual ballots to be extended. The Coalition would like to acknowledge the support of the Mayor Menino, Boston City Council, lead sponsors Representative Jeffrey Sanchez and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Chinatown's Representative Aaron Michlewitz, House of Representative and Senate leadership, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Greater Boston Legal Service and the many voters who supported and lobbied for this legislation. 

With bilingual ballots, United States citizens whose primary language is Chinese or Vietnamese will be able to vote freely and independently. Bilingual ballots are most needed by the elderly, who have the most difficulty learning English. Elderly, long-time residents are exempted from the English language portion of the citizenship exam if they have had permanent residency for upwards of 15 years. These are the voters who were the staunchest advocates for bilingual ballots. 

Coalition for Asian American Voting Rights: Alderman 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 Theresa 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 * Former City Councilor Sam Yoon, Boston * Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center * Hakka Association * Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund * Mass Pike Towers Tenant Association * Massachusetts Vietnamese American Women's League * MassVOTE * New Majority * ONE Lowell * Organization of Chinese Americans * Taishan Association * Taishan #1 High School Alumni Association * Tai Tung Village Tenant Association * VietAID * Vietnamese America Community of Massachusetts * Vietnamese American Small Business Association