Civil Rights Advocates Ask City of Dearborn for Arabic-Language Voting Ballots
SOURCE: CLICK ON DETROIT
BY: GRANT HERMES
DEARBORN, Mich. – A new push is underway in the city of Dearborn — which has the nation’s highest density of Arab Americans — to have more voting information and ballots in Arabic language.
Advocates are calling for ballots in Arabic for voters who do not speak English.
“What we had to do last election, we actually had to bring volunteers to translate voter registration forms and to translate their ballots inside with them, so they did not have those services for us,” said Nada Al Hanooti, executive director of Emgage Michigan.
After pressure from civil rights groups, the city released absentee ballot applications in Arabic online and already has registration in Arabic. However, Al Hanooti said that was a few days ago — two weeks before the next election, which she said is one of the biggest elections in the city.
“That is simply not enough,” she said.
Dearborn City Clerk George Darany, who did not want to go on camera, said sample ballots in Arabic are on the way. Voters who only speak Arabic can compare the sample ballot to the real ballot, but official ballots are not in the budget. Darany said those ballots could open the door to ballots in other languages, which he said would not be cost effective.
“By not having that, there is telling our community members (that) your votes don’t matter,” Al Hanooti said.
Additionally, Dearborn has a single drop box in the city of more than 90,000 people. Activists want that changed as well; however, the city clerk said it’s not in the budget this year.