SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — California Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) today announced that his bill, SB 1233 (Padilla) was passed by the Senate Elections Committee. The bill would require ballot initiative petitions to be provided in other languages. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“This bill is an important step to protect the rights of all of California’s voters by providing election materials in different languages,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “By failing to provide language appropriate petitions, thousands of voters have been and continue to be left out of the process of determining which initiatives qualify for the ballot. It is imperative that we provide initiative material in all the languages covered by the 1965 Federal Voting Rights Act,” said Senator Padilla.

Specifically, SB 1233 would require the Attorney General to issue a title and summary in all languages covered by the Federal Voting Rights Act for the circulation of statewide ballot initiatives and that written translations are made available to a potential signer of a petition who is Limited English Proficient (LEP).

Added Senator Padilla, “Providing ballot initiative petitions in the appropriate language will allow Limited English Proficient voters to become more engaged in the democratic process.”

The Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, Section 203, mandates that a state or political subdivision provide language assistance to voters if more than five percent of voting age citizens are members of a single-language minority group and do not “speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process.” Additionally, it protects the rights of Limited English Proficient (LEP) voters’ by providing language accessible election materials. In California, the languages covered by the Federal Voting Rights Act are Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, Khmer, and Hindi.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, 58.7% of the California foreign born population is LEP and 46.5% of naturalized citizens age 5 and older are LEP. Among the foreign born, 74% of those who speak Spanish at home are LEP and 57.5% of those who speak Asian and Pacific Island languages are LEP.

Senator Alex Padilla, 39, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 900,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District which includes most of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.