Arabic-language ballots will be available in Dearborn and Hamtramck for the August primary.
Sample ballots have been offered in Arabic in Michigan, but Arabic ballots are new.
Federal suffrage law requires translated ballots, but not Arabic or Haitian Creole.
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act provides that protected minority language groups are
“people who are Native American, Asian American, Alaska Native, or of Spanish descent.”
After encouragement from community members, the city councils of Dearborn and Hamtramck passed resolutions earlier this year to make Arabic ballots available to their residents.
In Dearborn, the resolution calls for election materials in English and any language spoken by at least 10,000 or 5% of Dearborn residents.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said it was crucial to our democracy.
“Voters will be able to go to the polls and understand what’s on the ballot in the language they are most comfortable with, be it English or Arabic, and be able to vote and really trying to make a difference,” he said. .
According to census data, about half of all Dearborn residents speak a language other than English at home.
Hammoud thinks this will get more people to vote in Dearborn.
“This is a historic moment not only for our city but for our democracy, something that will help ensure that we can increase the number of people who participate. Because at the end of the day, a participatory democracy is a democracy flourishing,” he said.
Ballots will be available for postal voting as well as at polling stations on Election Day.
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