Montgomery County targets bilingual speakers to assist at polls

Feb. 17, 2004, midnight | By Feza Kikaya | 18 years, 9 months ago

This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from the Montgomery County Gazette article "Breaking the language barrier at the polls" by Erin Uy.

Montgomery County's Multicultural Voter Outreach and Education Committee is requesting bilingual residents to volunteer at the upcoming elections to accommodate the growing diverse community. Volunteers will be taught how to use voting machines, help recruit bilingual workers, and explain voting procedures.

According to the Gazette, a 2000 census report showed that Hispanics/Latinos make up 11.5 percent of Montgomery County's population, making Montgomery County the fifth most diverse in the nation.

Gilberto Zelaya, the director of the committee, said the group's focus is on breaking the language barrier between citizens and the polls. The Gazette stated that Montgomery County established the committee to reach out to various communities and to offer voting material, ballot instructions and a list of deadlines in different languages, including Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. This move was made in response to the Voting Rights Act, which requires Montgomery County to provide resources on voter education.

The Gazette also Gustavo Torres, the executive director of Casa of Maryland, a Silver Spring-based organization, said the county's outreach efforts positively impact the immigrant communities. Torres believes the resources will encourage immigrants to vote once they realize the simplicity of the process.

Volunteering judge Ana M. Talavera-Hammad, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, said immigrants may not be enthusiastic about voting because of distrust in the government.

Nguyen Minh Chau, a member of the Asian-American Political Alliance, said encouraging immigrants to vote will help them realize that they can make an impact as a citizen.

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Feza Kikaya. Feza Kikaya is finally a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys driving, hanging out with friends and laughing. Most importantly, Feza is counting down the days to graduation so she can begin a new chapter of her life in college. Her favorite … More »

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