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  1. #1
    Senior Member ShockedinCalifornia's Avatar
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    Nov 2006

    CA: Absentee Ballots in FARSI language ... full.story

    For some, Beverly Hills ballots went too Farsi
    For the first time, the city translates its entire absentee and sample voting documents into Persian. Not everyone likes the look.
    By Tony Barboza, Times Staff Writer
    February 23, 2007


    Greek to her
    click to enlarge"Have you seen your ballot?" Gloria Seiff of Beverly Hills asked friend and fellow resident Betty Harris over the phone.

    Harris had not. She opened the mail-in ballot and took one look. "I was shocked by it," she said.

    For the first time, Beverly Hills had translated its entire absentee and sample ballots into Persian. The ballots for the March 6 municipal election, in which two City Council seats are up for grabs, went out this month, and the response was swift.

    More than 300 residents phoned the city to complain. City Clerk Byron Pope fielded about 100 of them personally.

    "I believe the cover is what shocked the community," said Pope, who had instructed the city's election materials supplier to print the entire ballot, cover to cover, in English and Persian, also known as Farsi. "I believe it was the Farsi script, with the war going on and all," he said.

    The translation is the latest measure of the growing Persian influence in Beverly Hills, where Persians now make up about a fifth of the city's 35,000 residents.

    The influx, which began in the late 1970s as wealthy Iranians clustered in Beverly Hills after the fall of the shah, has made a mark on many facets of the city, from architecture to the schools.

    But it has — as in the case of the ballots — caused friction. Some long-time residents have complained about newcomers tearing down historic homes in favor of what they consider monolithic white "Persian palaces."

    At the same time, Persians have flexed their political muscle by holding voter registration drives, electing the first Persian to the City Council in 2003 and making the Persian new year a holiday for students.

    Three of the six candidates running for City Council next month were born in Iran, and Councilman Jimmy Delshad will serve as Beverly Hills' first Persian mayor if he wins reelection.

    For Nanaz Pirnia, president of the Beverly Hills Iranian American Parents Assn., the ballots are about making voting accessible to all of Beverly Hills.

    "I'd rather see people understand the dynamics and what's going on, because voting is a very serious matter," she said. "In Iran we had kingship, and for Iranians to understand the vote in their native language is an advantage to our city."

    But other residents say it works against the integration of the Persian community in the city.

    "It sends a bad message," said Louis Lipofsky, a lawyer. "It's a message which is divisive, which I believe is designed to separate as opposed to unite. In fact, it's done that."

    The move to a full Persian translation in election materials started three years ago when the City Council directed the city clerk to determine how many Persian speakers lived in the city. Clerk Nina Webster conducted a survey of Beverly Hills High School students that estimated that 15% of Beverly Hills residents spoke Persian as a first language. The next year, the City Council included Persian text in its 2005 election materials, but it did not translate the cover, and Persian and English appeared on separate pages.

    This year, Pope, the new city clerk, put Persian text on the entire ballot, cover and all. The ballot has a bilingual English-Persian cover, and the two languages intermingle on the inside pages.

    On the ballot card, where voters make their marks, Spanish also appears, upping the number of languages on one page to three, and putting some voters off.

    "It was a design error," suggested voter Rose Norton. "It really looked like a menu from a Farsi restaurant with a translation in English." Norton said she found it "offensive" and threw the sample ballot away immediately after she cast her absentee vote.

    Pope said the latest change was recommended by the city's supplier and printer, Martin & Chapman Co., which has worked with several cities in Los Angeles County that are under federal consent decrees for not offering fully translated ballots. Though Beverly Hills is not one of them, Martin & Chapman suggested the change as a precaution, Pope said.

    The Anaheim-based company charged Beverly Hills an additional $5,025 to translate its 2005 ballot into Persian. The company's estimate for this year is $7,500, Pope said.

    "We don't want to disenfranchise any section of our community from voting. We're trying not to exclude," Pope said. "If writing the information in their language helps them to vote without anyone assisting them, we're going to do it."

    Pope said that in the 2005 election, fewer than 50 voters requested Persian language ballots at the polls, and none asked for Spanish translations.

    "It's possible that this ballot has gone overboard," said Councilman Delshad, who immigrated nearly 50 years ago as a teenager.

    "We want to reach out to others, but at the same time make it one unified community," he said. "To the extent that it might be divisive, I don't like it."

    Beverly Hills is not the only city to have more than one language on its standard ballot.

    In neighboring West Hollywood, where Russian speakers make up about 12% of the population, the default ballot is also bilingual, including phonetic English alongside Cyrillic Russian, said City Clerk Tom West.

    The federal Voting Rights Act requires counties only to make election materials available in other languages, not to send the full translations to all voters.

    Some cities have chosen to provide full translations, such as Armenian in Glendale, or Khmer, the Cambodian language, in Long Beach. "It's not a legal requirement, but they do it simply to serve people who speak limited English," said Deborah Wright, executive liaison for the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder. "It's in the spirit of the law."

    Richard Hasen, a professor who specializes in election law at Loyola Law School, said he supports Beverly Hills' effort. "If you take the view that voting is about allocating power to equals, we shouldn't discriminate against people because they speak a different language," he said. "If they're citizens and they're entitled to vote, they should be informed."


  2. #2
    Senior Member IndianaJones's Avatar
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    May 2006
    The Tower of Babel...we all know what happened.
    We are NOT a nation of immigrants!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    May 2006
    Somebody make it stop. I really cannot stand it anymore.

    Tower of Babel is right. Soon everything will have to be printed in 132 different languages and there will be so many different holidays children will never be in school (although that might actually be a good thing considering the condition of our institutions of unlearning).

    What Country do we live in again???????

  4. #4
    Senior Member gofer's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    "If they're citizens and they're entitled to vote, they should be informed."
    OK, ONE MORE are SUPPOSED to be able to speak ENGLISH to become a citizen, or at least that's what our goverment tells us! SO, what is the deal with having these ballots for NON-citizens which I would presume them to be, since THEY CAN'T SPEAK ENGLISH??!!

    Why doesn't somebody answer this????

  5. #5
    MW is offline
    Senior Member MW's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    North Carolina
    Okay, I know ALIPAC is Americans for Legal Immigration, however, the above article very clearly identifies a serious problem with the amount of "legal immigrants" we're taking into the United States. These folks obviously aren't assimilating. What they're doing is building their own communities, villages, towns, etc. Well, maybe they aren't building them, but they are certainly taking them over. I thought the idea behind assimilation was to have these folks integrate into established communities (mixing if you will). IMHO, one million legal immigrants a year is about 750,000 too many. Didn't I read somewhere that we were only allowing around 250,000 in a year back in 1960? Of course the legal immigration numbers don't even take into account the million illegals that are coming here annually. We currently have a combined total of 2 million immigrants (legal and illegal) entering the United States annually. I'm sorry, but that is just to darn many!

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  6. #6
    Senior Member ShockedinCalifornia's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    I think it also demonstrates how freakish Americans have turned into robots that capitulate every time someone categorizes a different nationality into a voting block.

    It is a clear extension of Hispanic bilingualism which is now plastered all over everything and should be replaced by making english the official U.S. language. This is not only absurd it is divisive.

    Some of these people were interviewed on local news tonight and they all spoke very good english because they learned how and understood that it was the ACCEPTED language in America.

    Americans need to distinguish between being politically correct in person and dicing up their own culture with an exaggerated host of misdirected examples of "equality advertising".

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