I now heard this from two sources: A person from the League of Women Voters and this Long Island immigrant support organization. (And, here is a story about the BOE’s attempts to correct the problem: here.)
By Patrick Young CARECEN October 31, 2008 2:44 PM
On Fridays I work at the Westchester Hispanic Coalition in White Plains. This afternoon Grace Heyman, the director of the Coalition, showed me a letter that had been received by one of the group’s supporters. It was from the Board of Elections and it contained some disturbingly misleading information.
In English, the letter correctly stated that the elections are on November 4. On the other side of the letter was a Spanish translation stating that election day is November 9!!!
I called the Board of Elections and confirmed that the letter with the incorrect date in Spanish had in fact been mailed by the Board of Elections. The person I spoke to could not say anything more about it, but promised to have someone call me right away.
Half an hour later I still have not heard back.
I have called the main Westchester newspaper about this and the Westchester Hispanic Coalition is trying to alert the Spanish media to try to undo the harm as much a we can.
UPDATE 5:00PM: I spoke with election commissioner Reginald Lafayette and he said that the incorrect date was caused by contractor error. Apparently a contractor in Kentucky printed up the letters and mailed them without Westchester Board of Elections seeing them. The county first became aware of the irregularity this morning and tried to stop delivery. He said that delivery was halted in Yonkers and some other areas, but that many were delivered in the northwest part of the county. He said a corrected notice would be sent to all voters today.
The Westchester County Executive has agreed to make robocalls to all voters in English and Spanish informing them that the letter was incorrect.
At this time, I do not think that this problem was intentional, but it still may deter some immigrants from voting. New citizens are perhaps the most likely to be led to believe that voting might be taking place on different days. Receiving a letter with such information could mislead hundreds of people into thinking that they have to wait an additional week to vote. Boards of election need to give the same care to their spanish language materials as they do to their English mailings.
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