Posted on December 29, 2009
On December 29th, 2009, the Korean American Voters’ Council (KAVC) testified before the Board of Elections of New York City about the new optical scanning voting systems which were certified by the NY State Board of Elections last December and demonstrated for general public last week.
KAVC evaluated the certified optical scanning voting systems based on the point of view of Korean American voters who are limited English proficient. And KAVC found that ES&S DS200 would be easier for the Korean American limited English proficient voters to access than ImageCast model for the following reason.
First, ES&S DS200 has large LCD touch screen. This model can magnify the menus for senior voters and also it is easy to read because you can just face the screen. However, ImageCast has small screen that a voter need to look down to read the screen. It would be more difficult and uncomfortable for senior voters.
Second, ES&S DS200 offers fully translated buttons for selecting menus. It was easy to find a translation menu to move to Korean menus. Because it uses a touch screen, all menu buttons were translated into Korean. However, for ImageCast, it was little bit confusing to select Korean menu because you need to keep pressing the translation icon to find Korean menu. When there was an issue like an over-vote or under-vote, the screen directs in Korean to press “넣다(neuhta)” to cast or “돌아가다(doragata)” to return. However, because the buttons are fixed and cannot be translated, there are no such buttons. It would be a big problem in other languages too. It would have been better to direct to press “green button” or “red button”.
Even though KAVC prefers ES&S DS200 for Korean American voters, we have found some problems to be improved in the ES&S system.
First, the Korean translation was not easy to understand. For example, “Contest” was written in Korean as “콘테스트” which is read “kontetseutue.” Technically, it was not translated into Korean. Simply, it was written phonetically in Korean. Therefore, if a voter do not know the meaning of the word “contest”, he would not understand “콘테스트” too.
Second, for a same English word, ES&S system translates the term into different Korean words which have slightly different meanings. For example, “Contest” was translated into “콘테스트(kontetsutue)” for the scanner, but for Automark, it was translated into “경선 (kyungseon)” or “경합(kyunghap)”. For your information, the same word was translated into “경기(kyunggie)”, which means “games”, in the ImageCast scanner.
For the Korean or Chinese translation, KAVC suggest BOE have the Korean and Chinese translations be revised by Chinese and Korean Language Assistance Program Advisory Groups.
Third, the Korean characters should be printed in bigger font size, at least a 12 point font Times New Roman in a word processor program. Currently, Korean characters are printed in 5 or 4 point. It is too small to read, especially for senior voters.
Changing voting systems would cause great confusion among voters especially those with limited English proficiency. We have only 9 months to the next primary elections. BOE should start an educational campaign about the new voting system as soon as it decides the new system. And we ask BOE take extra care in outreaching Korean community where more than 67% of voters are limited English proficient.