Governor Patrick signs legislation to provide bilingual ballots in Boston

By the Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick


Governor Deval Patrick signed  H. 4089, “An Act Relative to the Preparation of Certain Bilingual Ballots in the City of Boston” on July 15, which requires the Secretary of State to prepare certain bilingual ballots for federal and state elections. The bill also requires the Board of Election Commissioners of the City of Boston (the Board) to prepare bilingual ballots in all City elections. The Secretary and the Board will prepare ballots in English and Chinese and English and Vietnamese, in addition to any other bilingual ballots required by law.

“Protecting the voting rights of our residents is the essence of good government,” said Governor Patrick. “This legislation will help more residents in Massachusetts make their voices heard on Election Day.”

Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots must be provided in each polling place in Boston where more than 5 percent of the voting age in the precinct are members of that language minority and are limited-English proficient , as determined by the Board. The Board will use federal census data and City records, among other data, to determine which precincts will receive a Chinese or Vietnamese bilingual ballot.

This legislation also provides for transliteration, the translation of relevant Chinese characters to represent the phonetic equivalent of the syllables of an English name or a name in a language that is not traditionally written using Chinese characters, of candidates’ names.  Each candidate will be given a copy of the proposed transliteration and have seven days to review and provide written notice of any modifications of the transliteration, or a decision not to have their name transliterated.

The legislation was filed as a home rule petition by Representative Aaron Michlewitz on behalf of the City of Boston.

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