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New Yorkers can provide public comments on the proposed ‘Poll Site Language Assistance Program’ at a hearing next week

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The public will get a chance to submit comments to a proposed plan to add interpretation services at poll sites for the November 2020 election and beyond.

On Feb. 18, the New York City Civic Engagement Commission (NYCCEC) will hold hearing to receive public comments on the Commission’s Proposed Methodology for the Poll Site Language Assistance Program. The hearing will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor (North Entrance), Public Hearing Room in Manhattan.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, the public can also submit comments online until March 1. The meeting will be live streamed at NYC.gov/charter.

According to the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS), approximately 23% of all New Yorkers, over 1.8 million people, are Limited English Proficient (LEP). The NYCCEC has been tasked with creating a Poll Site Language Assistance Program that will provide interpreters at New York City poll sites to assist limited English proficient (LEP) voters with navigating the voting process. 

NYCCEC has since developed a proposed methodology to determine which languages are eligible for services and the poll sites where such services would be provided. The program is planning to provide the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bengali 
  • Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin)
  • French
  • Haitian Creole
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Urdu
  • Yiddish

The NYCCEC plans to provide services in Bengali, Korean, and Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin) only in counties where the New York City Board of Elections (NYCBOE) is not mandated to provide services in such languages under the federal Voting Rights Act.

In 2017, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) launched a pilot program to expand interpretation services at poll sites. MOIA will continue to operate the poll site interpretation pilot program and provide interpretation through the June 2020 primary election. During this time, oversight of operations will be gradually transferred to the NYCCEC, which will expand interpretation services citywide for the first time.

After considering all of the comments from the public, the NYCCEC will publish the final methodology for the Poll Site Language Assistance Program on April 1. The final methodology will then be implemented for the general election on Nov. 3. 

For more information about the CEC, visit the Commission’s website.

Emily Davenport