Detroit Free Press: Hamtramck agrees to provide Bengali-language ballots, voting assistance in elections
By Niraj Warikoo/Detroit Free Press
In a consent decree quickly reached after a lawsuit last month, the city of Hamtramck has agreed to provide Bengali-language ballots and other assistance for the city’s Bangladeshi-American voters.
The move comes just weeks before the Aug. 3 primary as the Bangladeshi-American community and other immigrant groups strive for political power. Some candidates who are Bengali speakers are among the candidates, including one running for mayor.
A lawsuit was filed June 3 by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) on behalf of Hamtramck resident Rahima Begum, who speaks Bengali and has limited English-speaking ability.
“I am really happy to hear that this agreement was reached,” Begum said in a statement translated into English by one of her children that was provided by AALDEF. “For many years I struggled to vote because I couldn’t understand the ballot and needed the help of my children to translate it. Not only would having the ballots translated and Bengali poll workers help me, but it will also benefit many other Bengalis who are unable to vote due to a language barrier. I am confident that it will encourage more people to vote and participate in the democratic system.”