Some Massachusetts leaders have been at the forefront of pushing for Vote-by-Mail legislature that would allow mail-in ballots to be sent to every registered voter in the state. Councilors Liz Breadon (District 9) and Julia Mejia (At-Large) proposed a resolution regarding the City of Boston adequately providing bilingual ballots to City residents.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to change the country’s idea of “normal,” socially distancing still remains a crucial aspect of managing the spread of the virus and protecting residents against contracting it.
Although mail-in ballots for the upcoming fall elections could provide an alternative to showing up to the polls in person, Boston currently only offers bilingual ballots in Spanish. This would further disenfranchise the City’s large Chinese American and Vietnamese American communities with limited-English proficiency by forcing them to visit physical voting polls.
Councilor Mejia pointed out that language accessibility was not the only issue that the City faces when it comes to the provision of bilingual ballots. She urged that specific attention also be paid toward accurate translations and transliterations to avoid any confusion for the voter.
While Vote-by-Mail initiatives aim to offer residents the ability to safely exercise their rights to vote, the existing language access accommodations leave out many limited-English proficiency Bostonians. The proposal would affirm that the upcoming elections would be equal, safe, and inclusive for all.