Proposition 16 Campaign Wins Changes on Chinese Translation Litigation

San Francisco, CA– Today, following legal action by Proposition 16 supporters, the Secretary of State agreed to changes to the  Proposition 16 Chinese translation of the ballot label, title, and summary.  The changes improve accuracy and ensure Chinese voters get correct information when they cast a vote this November. The court-approved changes include a new translation for diversity (多元化) and public contracts (公共合同) throughout the ballot materials, and additional revisions for clarity in the ballot title and summary. 

Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and Co-Chair of the Yes on 16 campaign, former San Francisco elected official Mabel Teng, and Orange County community leader Jing Sun were the plaintiffs in the successful petition. 

“I applaud the Secretary of State for making the necessary changes to ensure Chinese voters have accurate information about the many benefits Proposition 16 will bring to all of our communities,” said Pan. “There has been much misinformation about Prop 16 and our campaign is committed to getting voters facts and not fiction.” 

Jing Sun, co-petitioner in the case, said, “Proposition 16 is a landmark civil rights initiative on November’s ballot. Every Californian deserves to know the true contents and implications of this proposition. An accurately translated Chinese ballot language will provide voters with a clear understanding of this proposition, and enable them to cast their votes appropriately. This is a life-changing moment, and the Chinese American community should not be left behind, or be lost in translation.”   

The timing of the judgment is critical, as key deadlines for this November’s election — wherein all 20 million registered voters will, for the first time, get a ballot in the mail — are fast approaching.

Eva Paterson, Co-Chair of the Yes on 16 campaign and President of Equal Justice Society, celebrated the victory along with the petitioners in the case. “There are forces in this state that want to divide us one from the other. The Yes on Prop 16 campaign is united and fights for ALL Californians. As a Black American, I know how it feels to be excluded. We wanted to make sure that all Californians could understand their choices so we fought to make sure the language was translated properly. We are all in this together – Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Whites, and African Americans,” she said. 

Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Co-Chair of the Yes on 16 campaign, shared in the celebration of the Court’s decision with the petitioners and his fellow Co-Chairs. “Ensuring the most accurate information possible in the Chinese-language ballot pamphlet is critical to the success of our state’s democracy. Our campaign recognizes the importance of all voters, including hardworking immigrants who rely on non-English ballot materials; we have an obligation to eliminate barriers and to provide every opportunity to cast an informed vote.  Similarly, Proposition 16 would ensure that barriers to equal opportunity for all in business, employment, and education are removed, and that every resident has an equal chance to succeed,” added Saenz.  

Ballots and handbooks will be sent out to California’s 20 million registered voters in the coming weeks, presenting voters with their first chance to have their say on the issue of affirmative action in over 20 years.

Paid for by Yes on 16, Opportunity for All Coalition, sponsored by civil rights organizations Committee major funding from M. Quinn Delaney, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and the Hospitals, Open Society Policy Center

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