Local Cambodians Diss State Voter Guides

*Corrected since original publication to reflect the affiliation of the writer who covered the Santa Ana gathering.

Local Cambodians Diss State Voter Guides

Members of the sizable Cambodian population in Orange County and Long Beach have a problem with state voter guides printed in the language most are familiar with, Khmer:

The guides are too complex.

That is, the phrasing used is too formal, it's written in "legalese" and some words and concepts don't directly translate, including "ballot proposition" and "open primary."

Actually, I'm not sure if anyone in California understands the open primary, but the point is these concerns about Cambodian ballots were aired when the Greenlining Institute's "Claiming Our Democracy" team held a March 25 meeting in Santa Ana, reports Michelle Romero, who runs the program for the Berkeley-based "racial justice institute that works to bring the American Dream within reach of all." (Her post was also picked up by California Forward, where I saw it first.)

Romero's team is collecting feedback across the state that will be forwarded as recommendations to the Secretary of State's office later this year. Up next on the fact-finding tour: San Mateo's Filipino community.

Back in Santa Ana, Cambodian Americans complained the Khmer translations in state voter guides often undercut the meaning of what had been written in English. Another problem was the Khmer that was used was too "academic" mirroring a complaint that even English readers have voiced about ballot guides not being presented in plain language everyone can understand.

You can send complaints about ballot guide to rathal@greenlining.org.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >