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Common Cause/NY urges NYC Board of Education to place foreign language interpreters at poll sites

STAFF REPORTS

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Four days before Election Day, Common Cause/NY and seven other nonprofits issued a letter to the New York City Board of Elections (NYCBOE) and Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs demanding they allow interpreters for limited English proficient (LEP) voters at poll sites.

"Eligible voters with limited English need the same access to the polls as anyone else" said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "Thousands of New Yorkers are depending on interpreters to help them on Election Day, and the Board needs to go the extra mile to make sure that happens."

Last general election, the BOE refused to permit taxpayer funded Russian and Haitian Creole interpreters inside of poll sites, or even in proximity to the entrance, requiring them to stand 100 feet away due to supposed electioneering.

This year, New York City has expanded its program and will provide translators to assist voters with translation services in Arabic, Russian, Haitian Creole, Italian, and Yiddish at selected polling places in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

Common Cause/NY helped train the interpreters to avoid partisan questions and instead focus on helping voters read the ballot and understand instructions and signs.