r Letter From Eastie: Menino rocking the Latino vote?
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Menino rocking the Latino vote?

Originally uploaded by marilora.
I saw this sign in a shop window in Kelly Square. I think it's the first time I've seen a political sign in Spanish.

However, all is not well at City Hall. It seems that the Department of Justice has brought a suit against the city for violations of voters' rights. According the Globe:
In a lawsuit filed yesterday [July 29th], the Justice Department alleges that the city and its poll workers interfered with voters' rights by ''improperly influencing, coercing, or ignoring the ballot choices of limited English proficient Hispanic and Asian-American voters" and of generally ''abridging" their voting rights by treating Hispanic and Asian voters disrespectfully at the polls and by failing to provide adequate translation services for them.

The lawsuit says the Justice Department has been urging the city to comply with the Voting Rights Act since 1992, spanning a period when the city's Hispanic and Asian populations have swelled, making the groups a potentially formidable political force. Justice Department lawyers contend that the city has failed to respond to repeated requests to improve the city's treatment of Hispanic and Asian voters with limited English skills. It does not provide specific instances of violations of voters' rights.

''The violations of the Voting Rights Act that we discovered in Boston are deeply disturbing, and there is no place for such misconduct in 2005," Bradley J. Schlozman, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a prepared statement released yesterday. ''Furthermore, despite having had an unequivocal obligation -- for 13 years -- to provide Spanish language information to voters who need it . . . the City of Boston has consistently fallen well short of the mark."

Under the Voting Rights Act, if more than 10,000 of a city's voting-age citizens are members of a single-language minority with limited English skills, all elections materials must be available in their first language. The city is required to offer all ballots and instructions in Spanish for the 34,000 Hispanic citizens of voting age in Boston. The federal law also forbids officials from imposing any requirement or procedure that denies or abridges the rights of minority citizens to vote.


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