Asian Americans and Latinos hail decision, applaud the City of Boston and U.S. Department of Justice
Late yesterday afternoon, a panel of judges approved a settlement that requires the City of Boston to provide Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish language assistance to voters, including bilingual ballots and voter notices, and interpreters. The settlement also requires mandatory poll worker and interpreter trainings, creates mechanisms to complain about poll workers, establishes an advisory task force, and permits federal examiners to monitor the elections.
Its a case with national impact. This is the first time fully-translated Chinese language ballots have been mandated by a court order. It is also only the third case ever filed under the nondiscrimination provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act concerning Asian Americans, according to Glenn D. Magpantay, a staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
Asian American and Latino community-based organizations and individual voters sought to join the lawsuit as parties. Although the court denied their motion to intervene, the court did so without prejudice allowing them to return to the court in case of any backsliding on the agreement contained in the settlement. The court further explicitly noted that the settlement allows for the meaningful consultation from relevant community groups. AALDEF, Greater Boston Legal Services, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP represented the Asian American and Latino organizations and voters.
We have called for bilingual ballots for years. This is a tremendous accomplishment which was only possible because of immigrant voters willingness to speak up, said Lydia Lowe, director of the Chinese Progressive Association. In addition to her group, the Chinatown Resident Association, City Life/Vida Urbana, and individual voters Siu Tsang, Fung Yung, Yan Hui, and Maria Altreche sought to join the suit. They have all long worked on voter education and registration, as well as poll monitoring.
The settlement also requires full implementation of the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act for Spanish-speaking voters. Were very excited because this will increase the political voice of our community, said City Life/Vida Urbana executive director Juan Leyton. This is a victory for the role of communities of color in Boston.
Yesterdays settlement lets the voices of limited English proficient voters in Boston be better heard, said Andrew Troop, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Our law firm has a strong commitment to protecting voting rights, promoting community involvement and to pro bono work generally. We look forward to working with all parties to implement this settlement.
The community groups and individual voters applauded the City of Boston and the U.S. Department of Justice on the historic settlement.