BOE lawyer Steve Richman said the agency — which is awaiting Gov. Cuomo’s verdict on whether the city can redeploy its old lever machines for the Sept. 10 primaries and a possible runoff to follow — is prepared to feature Bengali regardless of which machines are used. “The board is prepared to be at full compliance” with the law, Richman said at today’s BOE meeting. But Glenn Magpantay of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, speaking on behalf of a coalition filing suit against the BOE in federal court, said the Board vowed to roll out Bengali voting materials last June — and suddenly said in August that it wasn’t happening.
AALDEF said the Board has dragged its feet, blaming technical barriers associated with the new optical-scan voting machines, since Census results propelled the feds in October, 2011 to declare Queens County eligible for a Bengali-language program under the federal Voting Rights Act.
“This has been a long journey. We’ve waited patiently. It’s been four elections now, and the time has come for real action,” said attorney Jerry Vattamala of AALDEF, which says every other jurisdiction that falls under the same VRA rules has managed to comply.
“These are American citizens, voters, who are entitled to language assistance,” he said. “All we’re doing is asking the Board to follow the law. They’ve been in non-compliance for coming up on two years now. I mean, enough is enough.”