The borough’s South Asian community last week cautiously celebrated the news that the city Board of Elections will provide Bengali-language ballots for this year’s city elections. “By providing translated ballots and language assistance in Bengali, we are ensuring that all voters in Queens have the resources they need to fully exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections,” said state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), whose district stretching from Bellerose to Richmond Hill was redrawn after the 2010 census in a deliberate move to consolidate the electoral power of Queens’ fractured South Asian community. “This is one critical step towards improving voter access and increasing voter participation for all New Yorkers.”
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.