GLENDALE-Armenian-American voters, headed by the Armenian National Committee Glendale Chapter, flocked to City Hall Tuesday to expression their opposition to an ordinance that would prevent municipal campaign offices from handling absentee ballot applications.
The more than dozen speakers from the overflow crowd said the measure aimed to marginalize Armenian voters from the election process. The speakers also claimed that, if passed, the measure would be deemed discriminatory.
In addition to absentee ballot applications that are attached to the back of sample ballots, local campaigns have been able to issue their own absentee ballot applications, with a provision of returning them to the City Clerk within 72 hours of receipt. This has enabled the campaigns to consider those who have requested ballots as strong supporters and prospective voters.
"We are very concerned with the disregard the city council members who support this new measure showed. Both the Armenian and the non-Armenian community spoke loud and clear of the negative effects and the true intentions behind the ordinance." stated Elen Asatryan, Executive Director of ANC Glendale "The explanations given by the council members who support the new ordinance did not tackle the issues at hand. We hope that our grassroots efforts will move the community to be present during the January 29th meeting of the City Council and force those who are trying to disenfranchise voters to rethink their position prior to casting their vote." added Asatryan.
On December 11, with a 3-2 vote, the Glendale City Council directed the City Attorney to draft a new law which would discourage Armenian American voter participation and reduce voter turnout, especially among elderly Armenian Americans by indirectly eliminating the follow through process candidates and organizations provide.
In the December vote, council members Frank Quintero, Dave Weaver and John Drayman voted in favor of proposing this new law, while Mayor Ara Najarian and Council member Bob Yousefian voted against the law.
Specifically, the proposed law would make it impossible for citizens and groups to provide language assistance or help in making sure absentee ballots are submitted entirely and in a timely manner to the Glendale City Clerk’s office.
"This proposed new law is an effort by certain members of the city council to target the large number of Armenian Americans who vote absentee and reduce participation by Armenian Americans in elections," said the Glendale ANC, which also led the community to urge city councilmembers to reconsider this decision through action-alert campaigns.
The measure is expected for a vote during next week’s city council meeting.
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.