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Sullivan BOE Agrees To Provide Voting Materials in Spanish

New York State’s Attorney General and the Sullivan County Board of Elections have reached an agreement to help ensure that language is not a barrier when it comes time to vote on Election Day.

Ann Prusinski is the Democratic Commissioner of the Sullivan County Board of Elections.

Compliance is with the Voting Rights Act, and those areas in Sullivan that meet the threshold are:

Prusinski says that after having been contacted, she and others at the Board of Elections began implementing a number of requirements in time for the November 2012 elections. Yet the board only recently formalized the agreement in a written contract with the attorney general.  Kristen Clarke is the Civil Rights Bureau Chief in the state attorney general’s office.

Prusinski says that while the county has many requirements in place, there is one that is proving more difficult.

She says they’re getting the word out via community organizations, churches, the media, and Sullivan County Community College.

Kristen Clarke says the agreement with Sullivan County follows similar agreements with Boards of Elections in Chautauqua, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Schenectady, and Ulster Counties. And, she points out, the attorney general’s efforts to ensure language access for voters on and before Election Day continue throughout the state. Plus, she says there is work in those counties that already have agreements.

Elections Commissioner Prusinski says few took advantage of the access to Spanish-language voting materials in the November election, but she expects more participation this year, although turnout is generally much lower in off-year elections.

Kristen Clarke, from the attorney general’s office, says the need to locate areas of minority-language voters emerged from 2010 U.S. Census data, which showed there are 2.7 million New Yorkers who speak primarily Spanish at home, nearly half of whom speak English less than very well. Of about 60,000 people of voting age in Sullivan County, more than 8.5 percent speak primarily Spanish at home.