In many states, voters have to deal with gerrymandered districts and the loss of accessible polling places or even prohibitive voter ID laws. Let’s face it; voting can be a pain in the behind.
Now imagine that in addition to all of these issues, you also don’t speak English very well. This is the challenge that is facing more and more cities and towns than ever before.
Today in the United States, three in 10 people speak a language other than English in our country. In many communities, a language barrier is a huge obstacle. The language minority voting community often faces the same socio-economic disparities and logistic barriers that negatively impact other marginalized voters. They can face hurdles and at times discrimination, at the polls from poll workers or challengers who are not able to communicate clearly. In the worst cases, there may be false assumptions that language difficulties mean a voter is ineligible to cast a ballot.
This is the situation that one man is trying to change. We first met Rooble Melvin when he contacted us about his work with the Jon Ossoff campaign. He explained how difficult it could be to get the message out in places like suburban Atlanta because of the large immigrant and refugee population in the area. Melvin, who speaks 12 languages, was working to get the message into these communities, often through the mosques and churches. He said he first reached out to the DNC for help during the 2016 Presidential election, citing instances of misinformation circulating in communities where very few were native English-speaking citizens. In addition to the language barrier
In addition to the language barrier, many of these people also come from unstable regions of the world where intimidation and violence keep people from participating in democracy. At one point, Melvin reached out for help after learning that a large number of voters who did not speak fluent English were receiving phone calls telling them that the upcoming June Election was postponed until October.
Now he is asking for your help. His petition addressed directly to DNC Chairman Tom Perez:
The Democratic party should address language issues head on to prevent miscommunication and disenfranchisement and the Democrats should work together to make voting for this growing segment of the American population as comfortable and easy as it is for everyone else. I’m creating this petition so that the Democratic party creates a department that does outreach to those communities. I witnessed the language barrier when I was working for Hillary Clinton campaign.
If you believe that we should reach out to our non-English-speaking neighbors, please take a moment and sign his petition.
Or, if you speak other languages, and you would like to help, you can contact Rooble Melvin via Blue State Daily. Send us a message on our Facebook page, and we will forward your information to him.
Let’s make a difference – one signature or volunteer at a time.