Las Vegas — Today, All Voting is Local Nevada and the Asian Community Development Council sent a letter urging Clark County’s Asian-American Pacific Islanders Community Commission (AAPICC) Chairman Craig Valdez to recommend to the Clark County Commission to provide election materials in Chinese. The groups are calling for election materials, sample ballots, ballots in voting machines, and mail-in ballots to be provided in Chinese (Mandarin as written) and will be presenting on their research and findings to the AAPICC on Wednesday, August 10 at 6 p.m.
“Navigating voting procedures or entering a polling place when English is not your primary language can become a daunting barrier to the ballot box,” said Mary Janet Ramos, All Voting is Local Nevada Campaign Manager. “This inevitably discourages voters from civic engagement participation overall. This is why providing election materials in additional languages that voters speak is imperative if we want to further voter accessibility to ensure that all voices are heard in order to build a democracy for us all.”
“Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority group in the nation. However, our community is diverse, both in culture and language,” said Amy Koo, Assistant Director of Outreach at the Asian Community Development Council. “To ensure that our whole community’s voices are heard and people feel comfortable exercising their right to vote, we need to provide ballots in their language to our community members.”
The letter can be read here.
Currently, Clark County is mandated by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act to provide election materials, sample ballots, ballots in voting machines, and mail-in ballots in Spanish and Tagalog. Language determinations are made every five years by the U.S. Department of Justice using U.S. Census data. For a jurisdiction to be required to comply with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, a community must be a historically disenfranchised group: Native American, Asian American, Alaskan Natives, or Hispanic.
In addition to this, communities must meet a threshold of 10,000 citizens or make up 5% of the voting age of one of the groups listed in a local jurisdiction such as county, city, or municipality and speak the same language, and be limited in English proficiency (LEP). Furthermore, this group must have an illiteracy rate higher than the national average. On December 8, 2021, the Department of Justice released new language determinations, and Chinese-Americans in Clark County just missed the federal mandate by less than 500 voters.
Worth noting is that all spoken dialects of Chinese (including Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, etc.) use the same written format, and Chinese can be used interchangeably when referring to written Chinese.