Kudos to California’s State Assembly for taking an important step to respect, protect, and fulfill the language-access rights of 6 million voting-age, limited- and non-English speaking (LEP/NEP) Californians.  Asian Journal reports:

In a vote hailed as a historic step forward for millions of California voters whose ability to speak and read English is limited, the state Assembly today passed SB 1233, which would require the state to translate ballot initiative petitions being circulated for signature-gathering into widely-spoken languages. The bill, which passed by 47 to 23, now returns to the Senate for concurrence on amendments.

The bill, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and sponsored by The Greenlining Institute, would apply rules similar to those in the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which prohibits discrimination in voting) to California ballot initiative petitions.  SB 1233 would require California to translate sample ballots and voter information pamphlets into the following 9 high-needs languages:

  • Chinese
  • Hindi
  • Japanese
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese

“Democracy should be for everyone,” Greenlining Our Democracy program director Michelle Romero told Asian Journal, “California speaks 200 languages, but our initiative petitions speak only one.  We can bring millions of voters fully into our democratic process, and it will only cost about a penny per person.”

READ MORE: Assembly Passes Historic Language Access Bill, Asian Journal (August 21, 2012).