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Asian voters need more help: Report

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The report, titled "Asian-American Access to Democracy in 2006," was released by the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund last week. AALDEF monitored dozens of polling sites - including 14 in Queens - in 10 states during the 2006 mid-term elections and said it found numerous instances of Asian-American voters being hindered throughout the election process. "As states prepare for the 2008 presidential elections, we urge election officials to remove the barriers that prevented recent Asian-American citizens from exercising their right to vote," said AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung.Many of the violations witnessed by AALDEF occurred in Queens, which boasts one of the largest and most diverse Asian-American populations in the country. According to the report, a polling station in Jackson Heights had only one translated provisional ballot, which was to be used by hundreds of Chinese voters. Another Asian-American voter in Woodside was given an English/Spanish ballot to complete.One Asian-American couple from Jackson Heights who needed language assistance were split up and redirected to two separate polling sites in the same district despite the fact that they lived at the same address, the report said. Meanwhile, AALDEF said nearly two dozen Asian-American voters in Sunnyside were improperly asked to display valid forms of identification without explanation, which is only required for specific groups of people who are voting for the first time. The report did not detail any specific issues in Flushing, though five polling sites were monitored in the area. AALDEF's report said more translated materials and interpreters in several Asian languages are needed across Queens to provide voters with the assistance they deserve during elections. "Our findings demonstrate that vigorous enforcement of the Voting Rights Act is still needed," AALDEF attorney Glenn Magpantay said.Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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