On May 20th, 2016, KACE participated in a town hall meeting on New York City’s Voting Rights Act. The town hall meeting was co-hosted by Representatives Nydia Velazquez (NY–7), Hakeem Jeffries (NY–8), and Grace Meng (NY–6). The aim of the meeting was to clarify the facts surrounding the purge of approximately ten thousand Brooklyn voters in the presidential primary in NYC on April 19th, and to hear the opinions of various voting rights advocacy groups.

At the beginning of the meeting, the three Representatives invited Michael Ryan (Executive Director of the NYC Board of Elections) for a hearing; afterwards, there was another hearing with experts on the subject of the Voting Rights Act, who were invited from various organizations such as AALDEF, Brennan Center for Justice, LatinoJustice, and Center for Law and Social Justice.

The Q&A session during the hearing unfolded around the topics of administrative errors following the Supreme Court ruling on Voting Rights Act, Section 5; the ensuing voter purge; and other inconveniences that NYC voters are facing.

Mr. Adam Gitlin, who represented Brennan Center for Justice in the town hall meeting, pointed out that substandard system of voter management and election operation is a problem that pervades the entire state of New York. He called for the introduction of a computerized system that would allow citizens to automatically become registered as voters when they turn 18 years of age. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who agreed with this proposal, highlighted the absence of services that accommodate voters’ needs, such as voting early and voting by mail, in elections in NYC. All three Representatives at the meeting promised to be committed to bringing system changes in Congress.

Mr. Jerry Vattamala from AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund), who attended as a representative of Asian American voters, criticized the fact that, despite having implemented translation services in Chinese and Korean, there continue to be widespread issues such as a lack of volunteers to provide translation services, misplacement of volunteers, and translation errors in ballots. He also talked about the discrimination that Asian American voters face in voting stations when they are asked to provide that they are citizens, and argued for a more thorough education of volunteers at voting stations and employees at Boards of Elections.

Unfortunately, the difficulties of Korean American voters were not specifically discussed in the hearing; KACE will meet with Representative Grace Meng in order to report incidents of discrimination and to suggest ways of improvement. In addition to what has been mentioned in the town hall meeting, KACE will bring up the following issues:

  1. The lack of promotion for the 2016 presidential primary;
  2. The absence of a channel to report inconveniences or incidents of discrimination;
  3. The absence of recruiting advertisements for translation volunteers on behalf of the NYC Board of Elections; and
  4. The inadequate management of translation volunteers by the NYC Board of Elections.

Currently, the mayor and the comptroller of NYC have launched separate audits of the NYC Board of Elections to investigate the purge of approximately 10% of Brooklyn voters.


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