Session Law

2014

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Chapter 166 AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE PREPARATION OF CERTAIN BILINGUAL BALLOTS IN THE CITY OF BOSTON

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
      SECTION 1. As used in this act, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:-
      “Board”, the board of election commissioners of the city of Boston.
      “City”, the city of Boston.
      “Election”, the choice by the voters of any public officer and to the taking of a vote upon any question by law submitted to the voters.
      “State election”, an election at which a national, state or county officer or a regional district school committee member elected districtwide is to be chosen by the voters, whether for a full term or for the filling of a vacancy.
      “Transliteration”, the translation into the relevant Chinese characters to represent the phonetic equivalent of the syllables of an English name or a name in a language that is not traditionally written using Chinese characters. 
      SECTION 2.  Notwithstanding section 40 of chapter 54 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, in federal and state elections, the state secretary shall prepare bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese in addition to any other bilingual ballots required by law in the designated polling places within the city as required by section 4.
      SECTION 3.  Notwithstanding any general or special law or the charter of the city to the contrary, in all city preliminary and final elections the board shall prepare bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese in addition to any other bilingual ballots required by law to be provided in the designated polling places within the city as required by section 4.
      SECTION 4.  Bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese shall be provided in each polling place in the city where more than 5 per cent of citizens of voting age in the precinct are members of that language minority and are limited-English proficient, as determined by the board, or where the substantial need for such ballots is determined by the board, taking into account objective data obtained from the most recent federal census, city records concerning utilization of or requests for bilingual ballots and any other demographic information available to the board, including the Lauderdale and Kestenbaum list of surnames.  The board’s determination shall be made in recognition of its duty under this act to provide the necessary voter assistance to the city’s Chinese and Vietnamese speaking communities. The board shall determine the number of ballots to be provided at each polling place in the city and shall inform the state secretary of the number of ballots needed prior to each federal and state election by a date specified by the state secretary.  Thirty days prior to any primary or election, the board shall inform the election advisory committee of the city and any other bona fide non-profit agency or advocacy organization serving the relevant linguistic minority community that has registered with the board for notification, of the numbers of bilingual ballots and the precincts in which they shall be available. 
      SECTION 5.  The board in any city preliminary or final election and the state secretary in any federal or state election shall provide for the transliteration of all candidates’ names for bilingual ballots in English and Chinese.  Each candidate shall be provided with a written copy of the proposed transliteration of that candidate’s name.  Within 7 days after receiving the proposed transliteration of the candidate’s name, the candidate may provide written notice to the board or the state secretary, as the case may be, of any modification of the proposed transliteration of a candidate’s own name or decline to have the candidate’s own name transliterated on the ballot.  The transliteration shall be subject to final approval by the board or the state secretary, as the case may be.  The board or state secretary shall provide public notice of transliterated names as soon as practicable.
      SECTION 6.  The city shall record the number of bilingual ballots in English and Chinese and in English and Vietnamese that are printed, requested or used in all elections held in the city.
      SECTION 7.  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the city in any primary or election shall be responsible for the cost of transliteration and the state secretary shall be responsible for all other costs resulting from the implementation of this act including, without limitation, the production of ballots.
      SECTION 8.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.

Approved, July 15, 2014.