KACE Program Coordinator Chae No distributes formal complaints to members of the City Board of Elections.
KACE Program Coordinator Chae No distributes formal complaints to members of the City Board of Elections.

On January 10, 2014, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) attended the New York City Board of Elections’ Korean and Chinese Language Assistance Program (LAP) meeting. This meeting is held twice a year and is mandated by the the provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

During this meeting, KACE presented three complaints to the Board of Elections.

The first complaint concerned the machine-readable ballots used in the 2013 General Elections. Due to the various languages provided and the seats up for election, space and size of the font was at a premium. As a result, the ballot displayed names and titles in extremely small fonts, rousing the ire of senior citizens and those with poor eyesight. Korean American seniors were of no exception as KACE received several complaints about the small font and the general lack of magnifying glasses at poll sites.

The representative from the Board stated that they received numerous complaints about the size of the ballot. The problem stemmed from the large number of candidates and the ballot guidelines stipulated by New York State law exacerbated this issue further. The Board is considering changes to the ballot font and sizes for the 2014 elections. In addition, he urged voters to utilize the Ballot Marking Device placed in every poll site. The device can enlarge the letters as well as guide voters in various languages, thus allowing the voter to vote without the help of an interpreter, but many of the machines are left unused.

The second complaint was about the current website of NYCBOE. Although the current iteration is a drastic improvement over the old version, it is still somewhat inadequate for Korean voters. Although the “For Voters” and “How To Vote” sections are done well, the rest of the content is not provided in Korean. Not only that, the translated versions of the website are not linked together, meaning that if a Korean voter accesses one section of the website in Korean and tries to view a different section, the whole website reverts back to English. In response, the Board stated that the website is maintained by the New York City Department of Information Technology and the issue will be forwarded directly.

KACE Program Coordinator Chae No outlines complaints.

KACE Program Coordinator Chae No outlines complaints.

The last complaint concerned the current New York State Voter Registration Form and the Absentee Ballot Application form in Korean. The design and readability of the Voter Registration Form improved dramatically but the lack of coherency it provides is marginal at best. The problems stem from the fact that the terminologies and nuances used in both forms are either archaic or unclear, making the two forms difficult to comprehend. KACE has requested the revision of the former form since 2012, but the State Board and the City Board kept pushing the responsibility to each other. Two years have passed since KACE’s first attempt at this issue. KACE has outlined the much-needed corrections through numerous complaints received during voter registration drives. The City Board suggested that a meeting with KACE and the State Board will be helpful in solving this matter.

The Board of Elections is recruiting Korean interpreters for the 2014 elections. If you are interested, please call KACE at 718-961-4117.

NEW YORK OFFICE: 163-10 NORTHERN BLVD. #307 FLUSHING, NY 11358 TEL: (718) 961-4117 FAX: (718) 961-4603