Lawmakers push to offer ballots in Hawaiian - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers push to offer ballots in Hawaiian

(Image: Hawaii News Now/File) (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)

By MARINA STARLEAF RIKER
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii has two official languages, but only one of them is offered on ballots during elections.

English and Hawaiian are the state's official languages, and lawmakers are pushing a bill to offer both on ballots. Right now, English, Japanese, Cantonese and Ilocano must be offered on ballots in some counties.

Hawaiian became an official state language in 1978, and supporters say the proposed bill helps recognize its importance. The language almost became extinct after the United States banned it from being taught in schools prior to annexation in 1898.

Kaanoi Walk of Kamehameha Schools says the number of people who speak Hawaiian is growing, but the language is still endangered. Census data shows that a little over 6 percent of the state's population speaks Hawaiian at home.

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