Patch: Malden Commits To Chinese Language Election Accessibility Measures

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Malden has faced criticism in recent years as various groups have raised concerns about voter accessibility for Chinese-speaking Malden residents with limited English proficiency. Credit: Dakota Antelman/Patch.

By Dakota Antelman/Patch

MALDEN, MA — The city of Malden has committed to implementing a series of voter accessibility measures under a memorandum of understanding that it finalized last week with organizations advocating for the local Chinese-speaking community.

Announced by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) on Friday of last week, the agreement looks to formalize prior commitments made in response to allegations from AALDEF and other groups that said the city violated a section of the Voting Rights Act known as Section 203 with regard to Chinese-speaking residents.

“This (Memorandum of Understanding) is a further example of Malden’s ongoing commitment to access and equity, full electoral participation, and compliance with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act,” a copy of the agreement shared by AALDEF noted.

Concerns Date Back Years

Section 203 requires communities to provide various language accommodations when more than five percent of the local population has limited English proficiency, among other things. The rule applies to Malden, where 7.4% of the voting age residents are classified as limited English proficiency Chinese-speaking persons, as noted in last week’s memorandum of understanding.

Talk of possible Section 203 violations in Malden dates back years, with poll watchers previously flagging concerns on multiple occasions.

Malden has looked to address problems in the past, making some gains, according to AALDEF’s copy of the memorandum.

“Although Malden made progress toward compliance during the November 2020 election cycle, Malden regressed in the November 2021 general election,” the document continued, however.