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LA City Council approves Armenian ballot language motion

LA City Council approves Armenian ballot language motion

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion from Councilmember Paul Krekorian to add the Armenian language to the city’s election materials. Los Angeles is home to the most Armenian-Americans in the country and about 30,000 are registered to vote in the city. Armenian is the third most commonly spoken language in Los Angeles but not one of the six languages now included on election materials, Asbarez reported.

“Throughout our history, America has been defined by its commitment to the right to vote, and it has been forged by the ongoing struggle to expand participation in democracy,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian said. “In Los Angeles, the most diverse city in the country, our citizens speak nearly 100 languages. For many naturalized citizens who speak English as a second language, the language barrier can be an intimidating and daunting barrier to full and informed participation in the voting process that is their right.

“Federal law already requires that the city provide ballot materials in eight languages, but Armenian is not among them. Yet Armenian is the third most widely spoken foreign language among Angelenos of voting age. Today’s action will require voter outreach and poll worker recruitment in Armenian (as well as Farsi and Russian). The Council has also mandated that city staff will work collaboratively with representatives of the County, as well as the cities of Glendale and Burbank and other local entities with similar language concerns, to develop a strategic approach to making Armenian language ballot materials available in future elections. These steps will make a real difference to thousands of citizens in Los Angeles who will now be able to more meaningfully participate in City elections.

“Our great American tradition of political inclusion requires that all citizens, regardless of their place of origin, can comfortably exercise the right to vote that is one of the very reasons many came to this country. By the Council’s action today, the City will continue to be true to that tradition.”

Language options currently on L.A.’s election materials and ballots include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese, all required by the federal Voting Rights Act. With the motion, the City Clerk will now plan for the implementation of full election language services in the Armenian language for the 2015 Municipal Elections.

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