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SF Candidates Use Chinese Names on Ballot

On the ballot, Ulmer will also be named Ao Ma
//yeti-cir-test.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/images/2010/9/richard-ulmer/original/Richard Ulmer.jpg
On the ballot, Ulmer will also be named Ao Ma

In order to win Chinese-American votes, candidates in San Francisco are putting their "Chinese names" on the November ballot. But it’s not just the Chinese candidates, reports Jane Xiao for the Sing Tao Daily.

Candidates are printing their names in English and Chinese on the ballot. But a closer look shows that, in addition to the eight Chinese-American candidates, and several other Asian candidates like Jane Kim and Jeff Adachi, who have used Chinese-character names for a long time, many non-Chinese candidates are also giving themselves Chinese-sounding names.

They include Richard Ulmer and Michael Nava, who are both running for Superior Court Judge Seat 15. Ulmer and Nava are using two different approaches when it comes to deciding on their Chinese names. Ulmer is transcribing his surname into Chinese characters phonetically (“Ao Ma”), while Nava is transcribing his surname into “Lee” and “Jing Ping” (Cantonese), which actually means “fair and just,” qualities sought in a judge.

When voters read the list of candidates for supervisor, they will see even more candidates with newly created Chinese names. They include District 2 candidate Janet Reilly, or “Lui, Li Jing” (Lui Li sounds like Reilly, Jing sounds like Janet); District 8 candidate Starchild, or “Tong, Si Duc” (Tong means “child,” Si Duc means “giving grace”); District 6 candidate Theresa Sparks, or “Siu, Pak Gee” (Pak Gee sounds like Sparks); District 8 candidates Rebecca Prozan, or “Ho, Bo Sin” (Bo Sin sounds like Prozan) and Scott Wiener, or “Wei, Sin Ko” (Wei sounds like Wiener, Sin Ko sounds like Scott); District 10 candidates Lynette Sweet, or “Ho, Lin Suet” (Lin sounds like Lynn, Suet sounds like Sweet), Malia Cohan, or “Kwok han, Ma Li Ya,” Tony Kelly, or “Lee, Hoi Li,” and DeWitt Lacy, or “Lee, Duc Wei.”

The Sing Tao reports that voters who use Chinese as their primary language find Chinese names easier to remember and feel closer to the candidates. The question is, will translating their names into Chinese translate to more votes?

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