San Francisco is cracking down on ballot name rules amid a trend of many non-Chinese candidates adopting a Chinese name in an effort to appeal to monolingual Chinese voters.
The city’s Department of Elections will now enforce a 2019 state law that bars political candidates from using a Chinese name on a city ballot unless a name has been given to them at birth or used for at least two years.
Because of the city’s robust Chinese-speaking population, ballots are in both English and Chinese, which has led many non-Chinese candidates to adopt a Chinese name.
The trend of candidates using Chinese names on ballots was brought into question by Supervisor Connie Chan, who is the only Chinese American on the Board of Supervisors.
Her inquiry was sparked by a race for the local Democratic Party committee, Natalie Gee (who is Chinese American) accused a non-Chinese candidate, Emma Heiken, of using the same Chinese given name in her campaign.
While the law will prevent non-Chinese candidates from abusing the flexibility of self-submitted names, it may also impact American-born Chinese candidates who do not have a birth certificate in Chinese that proves they were born with Chinese names.