Ulster and Rockland counties have agreed to provide aid to non-English speaking voters at the polls in November, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
The agreement is to be announced later today. Schneiderman has been pushing counties to provide assistance to minority language voters on Election Day to ensure they cast accurate ballots.
“The right to vote is one of our nation’s most important civil rights,” Schneiderman, the first-term Democrat, said in a statement obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “The minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act provide necessary safeguards and impose important requirements that are designed to ensure that all voters and prospective voters have access to the ballot box, regardless of their level of English proficiency.”
Schneiderman said the counties are following laws prescribed in the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires some bilingual ballots and election materials, as well as language assistance at the polls in Spanish.
Last month, the elections board in Schenectady County reached a similar deal with Schneiderman’s office.
Ulster and Rockland counties agreed to have election documents, such as absentee ballot applications and Election Day ballots available in Spanish.
The boards will also increase the number of Spanish-speaking poll workers, the attorney general said.
They were among 10 counties Schneiderman’s office cited in August, including Erie, Monroe, Dutchess and Putnam, for having significant Spanish-speaking populations but not doing enough to follow federal law and increase Spanish translations.
Schneiderman cited Census data from 2010 that showed about 5.5 million New Yorkers do not speak English as their primary language, including 2.7 million who primarily speak Spanish at home.
The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 6 election is Friday.
Schneiderman said that if people who feel they have experienced voting discrimination can contact the Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8250, email@example.com or visit www.ag.ny.gov.