GLENDALE–The Glendale City Council, with a 3-2 vote, passed an ordinance on Tuesday that would prevent campaign offices and organizations from handling absentee ballot applications and thus limit groups from providing assistance in making sure absentee ballots are submitted entirely and in a timely manner to the Glendale City Clerk’s office, reported the Armenian National Committee of Glendale.
Tuesday’s city council session saw more than two-dozen speakers from an overflow crowd note that the measure aimed to marginalize minority voters. Many in opposition to the ordinance said that if it were passed, the measure would disenfranchise voters by making it less likely for the elderly, the disabled and the young to participate in the electoral process.
But the community’s overwhelming opposition to the measure did not stop the three council members, John Drayman, Frank Quintero and Dave Weaver from voting to pass the measure into law.
"The council chose to set a negative tone in the city, disenfranchised voters, and has sent a clear message of the true intentions behind this measure," stated Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee-Glendale Chapter, Elen Asatryan. "It is now upon organizations like the ANC to mobilize our community and put forth all efforts to ensure no vote is lost during the upcoming municipal elections," added Asatryan.
Also present at the council meeting to speak in opposition of the ordinance were representatives from the Korean-American Coalition, National Korean American Service Education Consortium, the Democratic Party, and the Armenian Youth Federation.
During the meeting, Councilmember Bob Yousefian presented a letter from the Chairman of the California Democratic Party, Art Torres, who urged the Glendale City Council to vote against the ordinance and stated, "passing this ordinance would be a slap in the face to the California Democratic Party. The ordinance would be a tremendous setback to the cause of democracy and full participation."
Moreover, Mayor Najarian requested the city clerk to include in the record of deliberations commen’s such as "if the voter cannot read the ballot maybe they have no business voting; If the voter is not smart enough to understand the absentee ballot application, they have no business voting; If they do not understand English then they have no business voting," made by some Councilmembers and Glendale residents, which show loud and clear the sentiment and the intent of the proponents of the ordinance.
"We are deeply disappointed that the Glendale City Council has passed such a discriminating and hurtful ordinance that will restrict voter turnout amongst immigrant English proficient and senior voters," noted Hyun Joo Lee, the National Organizing Coordinator of NAKASEC. "There are over 9,000 Korean-Americans in Glendale and the Korean community uses the services that community groups offer to them to make the voting application process less intimidating and less complicated," added Lee.
Organizations and Residents have 30 days to gather signatures, should the public choose to place the item on the ballot for a citywide vote.
The Armenian National Committee-Glendale Chapter advocates for the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the city’s Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels. It is the voice of this vibrant community, which seeks to advance and enrich Glendale.