NEW YORK – Yan Tai, World Journal reporter
As Election Day drew to an end, an Asian American watchdog group said there were more problems among Asian American voters than people thought.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights organization based in New York, said Tuesday that for many Asian American voters things did not go that smoothly. The group sent 1,400 attorneys, law students and community volunteers to cover 130 polling sites in eleven states with large Asian American populations which have seen election day glitches for Asian American voters in the past.
Problems cited by the group included long lines, delays, and poll-worker confusion over ID requirements, as well as anecdotes of voting rights violations. These problems were also experienced by other voters, but the group argues that the problems hit Asian American voters harder because of language barriers.
The group received hundreds of complaints via its Election Day hot line, said Margaret Fung, AALDEF’s executive director.
The problems reported included:
— Voters who could not find their names on the voter rolls. For instance, at P.S. 250 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, several voters claimed they had voted in previous elections but their names were not on the voter rolls.
— Improper requests for voter ID. At P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one voter was told to go home to get an ID in order to vote. No interpreters were available to explain why this was needed.
— Racial remarks used against immigrant voters. At P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, two Arab American voters asked a few questions, and after they walked out, AALDEF volunteers heard a poll worker say, “They look like terrorists to me.”
— Violation of voters’ civil rights. In Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a Chinese American grandmother needed assistance voting and asked her granddaughter to help her cast her ballot. A poll worker prevented her from bringing her family member into the voting booth, in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
— Inadequate assistance in Asian languages.
— Broken voting machines.
— Delays and long lines and scarcity of poll workers. In New Orleans, some Vietnamese American voters had to wait two hours to vote at Sarah T. Reed High School in Orleans Parish, while at Mary Queens of Viet Nam Church, voters had to wait almost three hours to vote.