Posted on December 15, 2009
On December 15th, 2009, the Korean American Voters’ Council attended a hearing at the New York City Voter Assistance Commission to testify before the committee pertaining to problems which the community faced during the past 2009 Elections. Set forth by rules in the US Constitution, this hearing takes place annually, after the General Election to address specific issues and problems that occurred and institute changes and improvements to aid in making the vote efficient and fair. This will be the 20th annual hearing.
This year, KAVC targeted specific issues regarding the improvement of Korean language services and providing clearer voter education materials, all complaints received during KAVC Voter Hotline, held during the Primary and General Elections.
KAVC Staff Attorney, Chejin Park, Esq. also testified on specific issues regarding the distribution of election notices, only sent once a year in a format difficult to understand.
Currently, the system only sends the election notice once in August, and the notice contain information in Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish, and other languages based on borough, crowded together in one small part of the form with the actual ED/AD/Party in abbreviation printed in another arbitrary part of the form causing confusion and problems for the voter trying to locate their poll site. Addressing this issue will cost the Board any extra expenses in printing; a readjustment of format, perhaps mirroring that of the voter registration form, before printing would alleviate the issue.
Another issue which was pointed out by KAVC at the hearing was problems regarding the interpreter training system. On October 28th, when KAVC held a meeting with the Korean interpreters and conducted a survey, 15% of Korean interpreter who attended the training class replied that they could not fully understand the training , due to either language issues or content, while 21% of the interpreters answered that the two hours of training provided by the Board of Elections lacked the information necessary to fulfill the duties of a poll site worker.
While Queens County need a minimum of 181 Korean interpreters, the availability of interpreters was much less than expected, putting strain on the BoE on where to allocate the interpreters. KAVC believes that if there is a Korean training class available, and Korean version of education materials for those who are only comfortable in communicating in English, then it will be effective for the interpreters that they will practically use the material to work in poll site.