Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman today announced the Pennsylvania Department of State’s online voter registration (OVR) portal is now available in Chinese.
Online voter services now available in Chinese include registering to vote and checking your registration status, finding your district and polling place, applying for a mail-in or absentee ballot, and checking election night returns.
“In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 90,000 Americans proficient in Chinese. We are thrilled to be able to expand access and better serve this rapidly growing community in the commonwealth,” Chapman said. “Their voices matter, and this critical step helps to ensure they are heard on Election Day.”
“I want to thank the many people involved in the translation process including the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and community verifiers, who worked closely with the department from start to finish on this year-long project,” Chapman continued.
Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act requires certain jurisdictions to provide language assistance to people with limited English proficiency. In localities with more than 10,000 people or more than 5% of the total voting age citizens in a single county who are members of a single language minority group, have depressed literacy rates, and do not speak English very well, the county must offer voting information and assistance in that language.
Under that provision, Philadelphia County must provide voting materials and assistance in Chinese and Spanish, and Berks and Lehigh counties must provide voting materials and assistance in Spanish. Following the 2020 Census, this is the first election for which Philadelphia County is required to translate materials and provide voting assistance in Chinese.
“Providing voter services in the Chinese language does make Chinese Americans feel more respected,” said Chenlin Cai, a member of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and a Philadelphia resident. “This convenience of communication can encourage more people to express their voice through the ballot.”
Voters with limited English proficiency can also visit vote.pa.gov, which includes language support services. The department’s year-round voter hotline, 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772), also offers interpretation services in more than 200 languages.