Bilingual ballots campaign heats up

July 11, 2008

Wednesday, Governor Deval Patrick signed an executive order launching a statewide initiative to help immigrants integrate better. Yesterday, he spoke at a citizenship ceremony in Faneuil Hall about the New Americans Initiative.

Organizers rallied at the voting registration tables for bilingual ballots

Modeled after an Illinois program, the initiative draws together a committee that will hold public meetings on the impact and experiences of immigrants in the state. In one year, the committee will report back with policy suggestions to further acclimate Massachusetts immigrants.

This afternoon, members of the Coalition for Asian American Voting Rights (CAAVR) and volunteers from the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition gathered outside the Great Hall to register the newly naturalized citizens to vote. Representatives from CAAVR also carried signs calling for fully bilingual ballots, another action in the Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots campaign.

Newly minted citizens registering to vote

The advocates were hoping that Patrick, who was sympathetic to the cause while at the Department of Justice, would mention the importance of fully bilingual ballots in his speech.

Time is running out for voters who need these ballots. The campaign is asking legislators to pass the bilingual ballots bill before the recess on July 31, and is holding a call-in day on July 15. To learn how you can help, contact the Coalition at (617) 357-4499.