Fresno and Sacramento County Now Required to Produce Hmong Ballots

For Immediate Release: April 18, 2018

Contact: Cha Vang,, 916.382.0177

Fresno and Sacramento County Now Required to Produce Hmong Ballots

Secretary of State Padilla and Hmong Innovating Politics Create New PSA to Raise Awareness

SACRAMENTO – Today, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla joined with Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP) Executive Director Cha Vang to raise awareness about important changes that now require Sacramento and Fresno County to provide physical versions of Hmong translated ballots in polling locations throughout each county. These translated ballots are key in helping historically disenfranchised communities participate in our Democracy and ensuring that all Californians exercise their right to vote.

“Providing voting information in a voter’s preferred language is critical to ensuring all citizens can participate in our elections," said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “Providing translated ballots will help elections officials better serve Hmong and other communities. I am proud that California is working to expand all citizens’ voting rights and access to the ballot.”

“In Sacramento and Fresno County, Hmong Americans have become integral to the local economy and culture of our communities. Secretary Padilla’s leadership makes voting more accessible to communities who have been reluctant to participate due to language barriers,” described Vang. “These new changes will empower first-time voters, further educate experienced voters and creates a climate that encourages civic participation.”

While these significant changes are important for the community and reinforced by the law, the success of implementation and increase in voter participation depend largely on amplifying the information and on-going community organizing. “HIP will work deliberately with our partners and Secretary Padilla’s office to provide voter education for Hmong Americans and work with residents one-on-one to ensure they exercise their voting rights,” added Vang.

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HIP is a grassroots organization whose mission is to strengthen the political power of Hmong and disenfranchised communities through innovative civic engagement and strategic grassroots mobilization. We envision a California of empowered communities that thrive in a socially and economically just democracy.

Jonathan TranComment
Learning to be Brave: Women of Color in Power

I kicked off 2018 by facilitating a workshop on Asian American and Pacific Islander Women in Leadership at a AAPI conference at Stanford. As the women in the room, ranging from high school students to seasoned professionals, shared their experiences, I realized our struggles have not changed from past generations. Last year was celebrated as the “Year of the Woman” and yet as a woman of color, I could not fully take ownership or feel a part of that movement. The face of the movement was someone who did not look like me and did not share similar experiences growing up as a daughter of refugees.  

Today is International Women’s Day and in my reflection of that workshop, I simultaneously felt disheartened and hopeful but knew that ultimately things needed to change in order for us to truly see progress for women of color. What was I going to do differently in order to pave the way for other women of color to get there?

This past weekend, I listened to a podcast called “Teach Girls Bravery, not Perfection” by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code. All my life, I’ve been taught that perfection is part of my identity. At home, my parents taught me how to be the ‘perfect’ Hmong daughter so that when I got married it would prepare me to be the ‘perfect’ Hmong daughter-in-law. In my professional life, I looked at draft emails way too many times before sending them; I only spoke up in meetings when I felt that I had crafted the ‘perfect’ response; and doubted my abilities in areas I knew I was strong in. In her speech, Reshma shares that in order for us (women, everyone) to progress, we need to teach young women to take risks and be comfortable with imperfection. For me, this meant I would have to unlearn what I have practiced my entire life.

“Becoming brave” isn't an overnight sensation. You don't just wake up and jump off buildings. In my own small ways, I’ve started on my own journey of bravery. In meetings, I make it a point to share my ideas first even if it’s not fully baked. When I organize, I am learning to trust my abilities and expertise in engaging my own community when others ask me how they can outreach to the Hmong and Southeast Asian communities.

It is important also to recognize that the stakes for failure as a women of color are much more dire. Many of us serve as the backbone for our families--the ones whom our parents rely on, the mentor for our siblings, the caretakers for the children, and many times the breadwinner. The risk of failure has dire consequences because when we fail--we also risk the infrastructure for those who depend on us. Thus, I also make it a point to shout out women of color who commit small acts of bravery and take risks despite the challenges they face.

So this International Women’s Day, I proudly and boldly shout from the top of my lungs that we will smash patriarchy by uplifting one another; by celebrating #BlackExcellence #LatinaPower and #NotYourAAPISidekick; by pushing safe spaces into braves spaces and committing to make small acts of bravery in our everyday lives.


Nancy Xiong Comment