Assemblyman Dov Hikind Urges Board of Elections to Translate Voter Registration Materials into Yiddish

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hikind voterBrooklyn, NY – Wide consensus exists that voter registration is an important issue, especially in light of the upcoming 2016 presidential elections.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) was therefore surprised to receive voter registration forms mailed to his office in various languages, except one—Yiddish. Yiddish is the primary language spoken by thousands of his constituents. Hikind is therefore urging the NYC Board of Elections (BOE) to translate voting materials, especially voter registration forms, into Yiddish.

“There are voter registrations forms in Bengali, why not Yiddish? Everyone talks about how important it is to register to vote. There are thousands of Yiddish-speakers in my district and New York State,” said Hikind. In a letter to NYC Board of Elections President Michael Michel, Hikind wrote, “Making voter registration forms available in Yiddish will encourage native speakers of the language to register to vote by making the process more comfortable, inviting, and user-friendly.”

In his letter, Hikind added, “I invite you to take a look at any newsstand near my office, where you will see dozens of Yiddish language newspapers, magazines, and other publications, attesting to the vibrancy and every day usage of the language. As another Election Day draws closer, ballots and other materials generated by the Board of Elections, as well as information on the website, will continue to be displayed only in Bengali,Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. The voter registration handbook was even translated into Russian. But there are no Yiddish voting materials. This is a shanda—a disgrace—and totally unacceptable.”

“We need to expand voter registration opportunities to the thousands of Kings County residents whose primary language is Yiddish, especially in communities in my district such as Borough Park and Midwood, as well as Crown Heights, Kensington, and Williamsburg,” Hikind concluded.

The text of the letter follows:

December 7, 2015

Mr. Michael Michel
President
NYC Board of Elections, Executive Office
32 – 42 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Dear Mr. Michel,

All New Yorkers should have access to the same services and the same opportunities. It is with this in mind that I write to request that the NYC Board of Elections translate voting materials, especially voter registration forms, into Yiddish. Making voter registration forms available in Yiddish will encourage native speakers of the language to register to vote by making the process more comfortable, inviting, and user-friendly.

As you are no doubt aware, voter registration forms are available in Bengali, Chinese, Spanish, and Korean, languages that are covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In a city as diverse as New York State, this is simply not adequate. We need to expand voter registration opportunities to the thousands of Kings County residents whose primary language is Yiddish, especially in communities in my district such as Borough Park and Midwood, as well as Crown Heights, Kensington, and Williamsburg.

I invite you to take a look at any newsstand near my office, where you will see dozens of Yiddish language newspapers, magazines, and other publications, attesting to the vibrancy and every day usage of the language. As another Election Day draws closer, ballots and other materials generated by the Board of Elections, as well as information on the website, will continue to be displayed only in Bengali, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. The voter registration handbook was even translated into Russian.

But there are no Yiddish voting materials. This is a shanda—a disgrace—and totally unacceptable.

I urge the Board of Elections to address this issue and translate voter materials into Yiddish. I look forward to working with you on helping to make voter registration for New York’s large and ever growing Yiddish-speaking population easier.

Sincerely,

Dov Hikind
Member of Assembly

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

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