Farsi-language voter materials draw fire in US

The decision made by the wealthy California city Beverly Hills to publish its first completely bilingual election manual featuring Farsi side-by-side with English has generated hundreds of complaints. The pamphlets for the March 6 city election were mailed out early this month to 21,000 voters. They were printed cover-to-cover in both English and Farsi. The absentee ballot card also had a third language, Spanish. The city of 35,000 has a large and growing Persian population that began with wealthy emigres who fled the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s. City Clerk Byron Pope said his office received about 300 complaints within a week of sending out the new ballots, and a small number of complaints continue to trickle in by phone, e-mail and letter. "The majority of them want an English-only sample ballot," Pope said. "They prefaced their comments with: 'I've been a 20-year or 30-year or 40-year or 50-year resident ... when my family came here, we had to learn English."'