Asian American Community Organizations Celebrate Key Hire for Language Assistance at Polls
Chicago-Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago (Advancing Justice-Chicago) and the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) celebrate the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ hiring of Ms. Shobhana Johri Verma as Chicago’s first-ever liaison with the city’s Indian American voters and community organizations.
Since 2011, Advancing Justice-Chicago, SAAPRI and other active community leaders have worked with the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners in their efforts to provide language assistance to Asian Indian voters. As part of this partnership, Advancing Justice-Chicago and SAAPRI have recommended that the Board of Election hire a liaison to Chicago’s Asian Indian voters to further their mission of providing quality language assistance to voters and raise awareness of these resources in the Indian community. “Growing numbers of South Asian American voters in Chicago are limited English proficient, and this news is a huge win for the South Asian community in Chicago,” said Andy Kang, Advancing Justice-Chicago legal director. “We commend Shobhana Johri Verma and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners for continuing to expand and improve much-needed language assistance to South Asian American voters in Chicago,” said Ami Gandhi, executive director of SAAPRI.
Since late 2011, federal law has required that limited English proficient voters in Chicago who speak an Asian Indian language receive assistance in voting, such as Hindi-translated ballots and bilingual election judges in designated precincts on Election Day. In Chicago, such language assistance is also required for Spanish and Chinese.
Ms. Johri Verma’s work with the Election Board will involve coordinating language-assistance in polling places for Asian-Indian voters, reaching out to Asian-Indian community groups, recruiting bilingual election judges, promoting voter registration, and overseeing the Hindi translations of voting materials. For more information, please visit www.chicagoelections.com, www.saapri.org, or call 312-269-7990.