See press release below. Waiting on statements from the District 2 City Council campaigns of Ed Flynn and Mike Kelley. More to follow.
STANDING UP FOR OUR VOTING RIGHTS, AGAIN
Fourteen years ago, the Chinese Progressive Association helped elderly Chinese voters file complaints with the Boston Election Department and the Secretary of State, because elderly Chinese-speaking voters were being instructed whom to vote for while inside the voting booth, in some cases having their ballots marked for them, unsolicited. This led to a Department of Justice lawsuit and a settlement launching Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots for Boston voters.
For the next 11 years, our community fought for legislative approval of the bilingual ballot law and for ballots to be fully bilingual, including candidate names in Chinese characters. The City of Boston took other steps to protect voters’ rights as well, by hiring more multilingual poll workers, launching a new poll worker training regime, and launching an Elections Advisory Committee to work closely with communities to protect voters’ rights.
Over the past two weeks, Chinatown’s elderly voters have again been victims of blatant voting rights violations, this time involving absentee ballots. Members of Mike Kelley’s Chinatown operation submitted over a hundred absentee ballot requests on behalf of elderly voters, then took voters’ blank ballots away in signed but unsealed envelopes. Witnesses report that this team made the rounds to at least ten housing developments in Chinatown, holding a stack of yellow absentee ballot return envelopes. In some cases, Mike Kelley himself joined the team to knock on doors and suggest that voters request an absentee ballot.
One of many complainants described the operation: “On about October 19th, a woman unknown to me ‘helped’ me apply for an absentee ballot. I did not know that it was an application for absentee ballot, but I was told that I would get a yellow envelope. About two days later, the same woman along with another man came back to my apartment. They took my yellow envelope and told me to sign my name on that yellow envelope. Later, I found out that I was asked to sign an absentee ballot application and they took my absentee ballot. I did not see my ballot or mark the ballot. I was only asked to sign the envelope.”
The Chinese Progressive Association and Chinese Progressive Political Action condemn any violations of voters’ rights, whether at the polls or in the absentee process, and no matter who the perpetrator may be. The Boston Election Department is currently investigating numerous voter complaints and taking steps to protect voters’ rights. We call upon Mike Kelley’s campaign to immediately stop the illegal “vote-farming” of absentee ballots and to respect voters’ right to make their own ballot choices.