Relates to requiring voting materials to be provided in Russian.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the election law, in relation to voting materials in Russian
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill seeks the same status for Russian that exists for five other languages (aside from English) relating to all election-related information, as required by federal Voting Rights Act, in cities with over one million residents.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one states that a board of elections in a city of over one million provide all information that is provided in English about the electoral process, including registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance as well as information provided at the polling place, including voting systems, ballot marking devices and ballots in Russian to the extent needed to allow voters who speak Russian to participate effectively in the electoral process and all voting-connected activities. Further, such board of elections shall also provide the same information in Russian that it provides in languages other than English on its website.
Section one also states that such board of elections shall also produce and disseminate citywide a booklet that includes: (a) a voter registration form in English with instructions in Russian; (b) instructions in Russian regarding the criteria and application process for obtaining an absentee ballot; and (c) a section with general voter information in Russian including frequently asked questions. Such board may include other languages on its website and in such booklet.
Section two is the effective date.
There are over 1.6 Russian speaking Americans in the New York Tri-State area alone. Residents of the New York Metropolitan Area who were born in Russia and other former Soviet Union countries is almost 500,000. Some Assembly and Senate districts have significant Russian speaking populations, up to 20% of some districts' total population. In many cases, these Russian Americans are being unfairly shut out of the voting process because of language barriers.
Voting and registration materials are printed in many languages other than English, but Russian has long been ignored. These Russian-Americans aren't voting because they aren't registered and they aren't registered because some of them can't read the information and registration materials. This bill will go a long way towards equal representation for all New Yorkers.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: Similar to Chapter 244 of 2009
Costs to local boards of elections in cities with one million or more residents.
This act shall take on the one hundred and twentieth day after it shall have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7812 IN SENATE June 20, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sen. STOROBIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to voting materials in Russian THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 3-506 of the election law, as added by chapter 244 of the laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows: S 3-506. Boards of elections; voting materials in Russian. A board of elections in a city of over one million shall provide
[the same informa- tion in Russian that it provides in languages other than English on its website. It]ALL INFORMATION THAT IS PROVIDED BY SUCH A BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN ENGLISH ABOUT THE ELECTORAL PROCESS, INCLUDING REGISTRATION OR VOTING NOTICES, FORMS, INSTRUCTIONS, ASSISTANCE AS WELL AS INFORMA- TION PROVIDED AT THE POLLING PLACE, INCLUDING VOTING SYSTEMS, BALLOT MARKING DEVICES AND BALLOTS IN RUSSIAN TO THE EXTENT NEEDED TO ALLOW VOTERS WHO SPEAK RUSSIAN TO PARTICIPATE EFFECTIVELY IN THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AND ALL VOTING-CONNECTED ACTIVITIES. SUCH BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHALL ALSO PROVIDE THE SAME INFORMATION IN RUSSIAN THAT IT PROVIDES IN LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH ON ITS WEBSITE. SUCH BOARD OF ELECTIONS shall also produce and disseminate citywide a booklet that includes: (a) a voter registration form in English with instructions in Russian; (b) instructions in Russian regarding the criteria and application process for obtaining an absentee ballot; and (c) a section with general voter information in Russian including frequently asked questions. Such board may include other languages on its website and in such booklet. S 2. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law. Effective immediately, the addition, amend- ment and/or repeal of any rules or regulations necessary for the imple- mentation of this act on its effective date are authorized to be made on or before such date.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD16185-02-2