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In addition to conducting exit polls of Asian-American voters, the organization, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, inspected 20 other sites throughout the city for voter discrimination, especially in Brooklyn and Queens - two Asian-American strongholds.
"At the sites we're looking for an adequate number of interpreters, bilingual assistance, and we're trying to protect the Asian-American voter population," said Glenn D. Magpantay, a legal fellow of the fund. "The biggest problem seems to be that the Republicans are challenging people that look foreign to them. They have watchers who are allowed to challenge voters, but we're afraid that a preponderance of them are racial minorities."
Immigrant advocates first testified about instances of voter discrimination at a City Council hearing in late September. At the hearing, Christopher Kui, the executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, said that many polling sites, particularly in Flushing, lacked translators for Korean and Chinese voters. And if Chinese translators were available, many times they would be conversant only in Cantonese, not in Mandarin.
At JHS 189 on Barclay Avenue in Flushing, Election Day voter turnout was particularly heavy, and on-site election officials said they were well staffed with translators. Oliver Tan, the coordinator, said at about 11 a.m. Tuesday: "It's crazy. We have had very, very heavy turnout today. There are a lot of first-time voters, and ones who haven't voted in a really long time. One election district already is at 200 people, and they usually get about 300 for the entire day."
Tan said that his polling site was staffed with three Chinese translators, fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin, and two Korean translators. And, two inspectors at the site spoke Spanish and two spoke Chinese, he said.
The Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund was also eager to find out for whom Asians voted in local and state elections, as well as their demographic information. Four volunteers of the fund were stationed just inside the door, stopping departing Asian voters and asking them to fill out the exit polls.
The fund has been collecting this sort of data since 1988. In 1996, the last presidential election, the fund interviewed more than 3,200 Asian-American voters, Magpantay said. The results of the exit poll and whether there were any reported cases of voter discrimination were expected to be announced at the end of this week or early next week, Magpantay said.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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