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In 2002, Help America Vote Act Changed Content in Voter Registration Forms Making Previously Translated Forms Useless

Asian Communities Across New York City Were At Risk Of Being Unable to Register to Vote

Schumer: Asian Communities in New York City and Across The Country Will Now be Provided the Same Access to Democracy As Everyone Else

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, announced that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has agreed to finalize and release the translation of the Federal Mail-In Voter Registration Form into the Asian languages, as required by the Voting Rights Act, before the start of the 2010 primaries. With only months until the start of the 2010 federal primaries, Asian communities covered by the law will be afforded the same access to registering to vote as Spanish-speaking voters already have. Schumer fought to ensure that the federal form is available to all eligible voters in a readily understandable format. Schumer has been working with the EAC throughout the summer, and sent a letter in early October, calling on the EAC to complete the form in time for the 2010 primary elections. 

“The Asian community is an integral part of New York City and must be afforded the same full access to democracy as everyone else,” Schumer said. “The fact that the EAC will now translate these important voter registration forms into various Asian languages means those unable to read English will be able to participate in our nation’s greatest tradition - voting. I am thrilled that the EAC heard my calls so the Asian community in New York, and across the nation, is justly represented.” 

This will not be a new translation. The Federal Election Commission routinely translated the federal voter registration form into the required Spanish and Asian languages in the mid-1990’s. However, the Help America Vote Act in 2002 changed some content in the national voter registration form, making prior translations of the form obsolete. The EAC released its Spanish-language translation of the form in January of 2006, and the Asian-language translations are long overdue. 

Last year, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration staff received a complaint from Asian-American advocacy organizations because the Asian-language form would not be ready for the 2008 election. The EAC’s response, almost a year ago, indicated that the agency would work to research and translate the form. It is important for the EAC to work with the representatives of the affected communities, and there has been ample opportunity and time to do so since the creation of the EAC almost six years ago.