Boston’s 2008 presidential primary ballot could read like a bad Chinese menu. There might be “Sticky Rice” in column A, “Virtue Soup” in column B and, in column C, “Upset Stomach.”
Those could be choices facing some voters if the names of Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Hillary Rodham Clinton were converted into Chinese characters, according to Massachusetts’ top election official. And that gives Secretary of State William Galvin heartburn.
On Tuesday, Galvin filed a challenge in federal court to a Justice Department agreement requiring that ballots be fully translated to protect the rights of Chinese-speaking voters. Galvin says Chinese — which uses characters, not letters; has sounds with several meanings; and is spoken in several dialects — will create ballot chaos.
Ballot chaos? Really? Maybe the Secretary of State is correct. Maybe, if we let them translate things into symbolic languages, chaos will occur. But wait, perhaps there is some data on this. Maybe some other state translates ballots into symbolic languages and they do not have ballot chaos. Could it be?
Ah, yes. California. They translate their ballots into numerous symbolic languages, as you can see here. This is the municipal election ballot for LA City mayor. Page 1 is in English, Page 2 has two alphabetic Asian languages and pages 3 and 4 contain 3 symbolic Asian languages. Mike and I were in LA for this election and there were no earthquakes, the earth kept spinning, there were no riots, and voters voted without incident.
The amusing factor here is that everyone has this idea that you can’t make THAT election reform here. So those wacky Californians can do it but Boston? Boston? We couldn’t POSSIBLY vote like that HERE! Soon they will want to institute early and liberal absentee voting in New York or Election Day Voter Registration in some Southern state. And again, no doubt, chaos will follow.