October 29, 2015, Washington, DC — Meet Neda Bolourchi, an Iranian-American voting rights activist who works to make voting more accessible for Iranian Americans in Los Angeles, CA. A law student, paralegal, and election inspector for the City and County of Los Angeles, Bolourchi understands that some Iranian Americans in her county have trouble voting during elections because none of the election materials have been translated into Farsi. This motivated Bolourchi to make voting more accessible to Iranian Americans. Recently, she spearheaded an effort to translate online sample ballot booklets into Farsi, which are used to describe candidates and measures within LA County, information that election inspectors cannot share with voters at the polling place.
“Lack of education regarding the electoral process has hindered the community [in becoming] part of the democratic process in this country,” Bolourchi notes. “Taking full advantage of the opportunities offered to ethnic groups, such as the availability of election materials in foreign languages, is a privilege we should participate in.”
The activist is now trying to make election materials available in an audible format in Farsi at the polls. This will help physically disabled Iranian voters, specifically the visually impaired, listen to their ballot measures in Farsi. Bolourchi is also in the process of creating educational videos in Farsi that explain how to fill out voter registration forms.
In addition, Bolourchi devotes time to working with the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, CA. The activist’s experiences as a woman and an immigrant made her realize the need to educate her community about their rights and duties to vote as US Citizens. Within a year of joining the League, Bolourchi became an officer and served as Board Secretary. She connected the League of Women Voters with the Iranian American community in Los Angeles, representing the League at Iranian American events in the community and registering Iranian Americans to vote.
“I will continue to fight for our election rights because I feel strongly that we all have a duty to help our fellow countrymen and women in promoting the positive aspects of the Iranian culture in this country,” Bolourchi explains. “It is time to have open and honest community discussions about the issues that matter to Iranians, to truly learn the lessons of citizenship in a democratic society which allows differing points of views to be voiced and respected. To engage once again in the issues that should matter to all of us as citizens of this country and which shape our future, but it is also time to give back to a country that has given us so much.”