By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new voter education campaign kicked off today in City Council to encourage Philadelphia voters to approve question #3 on the May 19th ballots.
The ballot question, if approved, would amend the city’s charter to require all city agencies (including the DA’s office and the city commissioners, who run elections) to create and execute plans to ensure that those who speak languages other than English can access their services.
The campaign has its own social media hashtag: #YesOn3.
“Twenty-one percent of residents speak a language other than English at home,” notes Jennifer Rodriguez, who runs the mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs. She says the city’s is growing fast, thanks to immigrants, so it is critical that city services be accessible to everyone.
Last year, Asian groups complained about a lack of interpreters and foreign-language explanations at Philadelphia polling stations.
Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez (at lectern in photo), who sponsored legislation to get question #3 on the May 19th ballot, says this is a step toward fixing the problem.
“We need to do better as a city to allow people to have access to the democratic process,” she said. “This will infuse it forever into the charter.” It would force city agencies to plan for interpreters and provide materials in multiple languages.
Ballot question 3 needs to be approved by a majority of voters on May 19th.