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#1005: Miami-Dade OKs ballots in Creole (fwd)


Published Wednesday, November 17, 1999, in the Miami Herald 
 Miami-Dade OKs ballots in Creole


 Miami-Dade County voters who speak Creole may soon be able to cast
ballots in their own language, if they live in Little Haiti or other
neighborhoods with large numbers of Haitian-American residents.
 The Miami-Dade Commission on Tuesday directed the county's supervisor
of elections to provide Creole ballots in precincts where a significant
portion of voters are Haitian-American. The commission did not define
``significant,'' but county officials estimated the measure will apply
to about 30 precincts and cost about $64,000, including $42,000 for a
full-time translator. The county has provided ballots in Spanish since
the mid-1970s, said Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor David Leahy. The
requirement for Creole ballots takes effect March 1, in time for the
presidential primary election on March 14. ``The big thing is the
translator,'' Leahy said. ``People are going to be voting based on that
translation. That's why it's critical.'' A handful of people spoke in
favor of the ordinance. No one spoke against.
 ``It is very important that the ballot be in Creole,'' said Leonie
Hermantin, executive director of the Haitian-American Foundation. The
measure has a practical as well as symbolic significance, she said.
 ``It will make a segment of our population that feels marginalized feel
as if they are a part of this great county,'' Hermantin said.
 The measure, sponsored by Commissioners Dorrin Rolle and Barbara
 Carey-Shuler, passed unanimously.