WBEZ | Kelly Bateman http://www.wbez.org/tags/kelly-bateman Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago, Cook County must offer ballots in a new language, but which one? http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-cook-county-must-offer-ballots-new-language-which-one-94116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/forOdette.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Election officials in Cook County and the city of Chicago are rushing to comply with the latest elections-related mandate from the U.S. Department of Justice: to provide bilingual assistance to Asian Indians in time for the 2012 election.</p><p>“We need to get moving and get this process rolling,” said Kelly Bateman, Assistant Executive Director of the Chicago Board of Elections.&nbsp;“The election’s March 20, so you go back a good six weeks before the election, if not more,” added Bateman, referring to the Republican primary voting date in Illinois.</p><p>Bateman and her counterparts at the Cook County Clerk’s office have just a few weeks to translate all written materials and publicity pieces for the election. They also need to find bilingual poll workers and interpreters for election day to assist Indian immigrants who are registered voters. This assistance is currently available to Spanish-speaking and Chinese-speaking minorities, which qualify under <a href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/sec_203/activ_203.php">Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act</a>.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.census.gov/rdo/pdf/PrescribedFlowFor203Determinations.pdf">federal formula</a> to determine which language groups get bilingual assistance depends on the number of voting age citizens with limited English proficiency, and the portion with less than a fifth-grade education. Until this year, the U.S. Census Bureau considered the data every ten years. Going forward, the determinations will be made every five years, based on data from the <a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/">American Community Survey</a>.</p><p>Bateman says her office is well-versed in providing this assistance, but accommodating Indian Americans may present some different challenges. “There could be 50-plus different types of languages or dialects in the Asian Indian language,” said Bateman. “So we need to narrow it down to one language that is recognizable and understandable by the community.”</p><p>The three most common languages spoken for Indians in Cook County are Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, but there are dozens more, including Tamil, Punjabi, and Telugu, to name a few. And they’re not all united by a common written script, as with Chinese. So Bateman and officials with the election office in Cook County are getting knee-deep into the data to learn which precincts Indian Americans live in and which languages they speak.</p><p>Bateman says even though the written materials will only be translated into one language, poll workers and interpreters can help with others.</p><p>Bateman’s office and the Cook County Clerk’s office were surprised that Indian-Americans were the next group to qualify for language assistance. Based on numbers from the 2000 population survey, they expected Korean to be the next language.</p><p>“People can see that influx of Korean-Americans. If you go to Glenview and Northbrook, and also the Niles area, a lot of Korean businesses are booming in that area,” said Sik Sohn, Executive Director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center. “So that’s why I think that we expected that the Korean language would be added.”</p><p>Sohn is happy for his Indian-American counterparts, but he’s disappointed that Korean-Americans did not qualify for bilingual voting assistance. Sohn wants to see the latest data, and says based on that, he might appeal.</p><p>South Asian organizers say language access will overcome an important barrier that many Indian immigrants face when voting. But Chirayu Patel said there’s a bigger obstacle. “I think there was a lack of connection in terms of my voting, how does that affect the issues that I’m facing?”</p><p>Patel registered South Asian voters on Chicago’s far North Side for the 2006 midterm elections. He said many of them cared more about politics in India than what was happening in their congressional district.</p><p>“I think the biggest thing that we did was make that connection in terms of why voting, even if it’s at the local level, why that matters in terms of addressing the issues that you have,” Patel said.</p><p>Patel says it’s great that the feds are giving Indian-Americans a better chance to voice their opinions at the polls. The question is, will they use it?</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-cook-county-must-offer-ballots-new-language-which-one-94116 Asian Indians to gain election help http://www.wbez.org/story/asian-indians-gain-election-help-93829 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/RS4265_Election 2010_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County and Chicago election officials are on a tight deadline to meet a new requirement to offer language assistance to Asian Indians before the March primary. The Department of Justice has told the election offices that the minority group has met strict thresholds under <a href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/42usc/subch_ib.php#anchor_1973aa-1a">Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act</a>, according to the latest numbers from the American Community Survey.</p><p>The law requires that the offices translate all written election materials, including voter registration forms and ballots, into the language spoken by the minority group. The offices will also have to provide translation of all pre-election publicity, as well as oral assistance through hotlines on election day. The Cook County Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Board of Elections already provide similar assistance for Spanish and Chinese.</p><p>But meeting the requirement for South Asians will be a bigger challenge, because of the diversity of languages spoken by Indian-American immigrants.&nbsp;</p><p>“There could be fifty-plus different languages or dialects in the Asian Indian language,” said Kelly Bateman, Assistant Executive Director of the Chicago Board of Elections. “So we need to narrow it down to one language that is recognizable and understandable by the community.”</p><p>According to the latest data from the <a href="http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/language/data/acs/index.html">American Community Survey</a>, about 21,000 South Asians living in Cook County speak Urdu, about 18,000 speak Gujarati, and another 18,000 speak Hindi. &nbsp;Bateman says Chicago has enlisted a data survey company to identify the precincts where Indian-Americans are concentrated. With the company’s help and through partnerships with local Asian American organizations, the office will determine which language to translate the written materials to. Bateman said it’s possible that oral assistance will be provided in more than one language.</p><p>Bateman said the election office will have to move quickly on determining the language and translating materials. “The election’s March 20,” she said, referring to the Illinois primary election. “So you go back a good six weeks before the election, if not more.”</p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.aaichicago.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=40&amp;Itemid=188&amp;lang=en">Asian American Institute</a>, the Indian American population in Illinois increased 52 percent between 2000 and 2010, and about one-third of Indian-American voters in Cook County have limited proficiency in English.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/asian-indians-gain-election-help-93829