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Translator scheme? Brooklyn opponents blast polling booth plan for interpreters

'Why should someone on ballot be allowed to run this operation?'

November 6, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio will send translators to polling stations on Election Day. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Pool
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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to send teams of Russian and Haitian interpreters out to polling booths on Election Day does not translate well with Republican officials.

As reported in the New York Post, City Hall has hired teams of interpreters to be stationed outside 20 polling stations in south Brooklyn tomorrow to help Russian- and Haitian Creole- speaking individuals through the voting process.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will place 40 translators outside the polling stations. According to the report, Acting Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi referred to the effort as a “one-time project” that will rely on workers supplied by an unidentified “temp agency.”

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According to the Post, Board of Elections (BOE) President Frederic Umane said the plan “causes a problem for us because … it’s a City Council and mayor-sponsored program that may look to affect that election.

“It sort of raises perhaps an issue of the smell test or whatever, you know, that this is the year they want to do it,” the Post quotes Umane saying at an Oct. 10 BOE meeting.

Umane, Manhattan’s Republican elections commissioner, also worried that the plan could expose the BOE “to litigation from other people,” according to the Post.

Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Ted Ghorra voiced his concerns regarding this initiative calling it “a violation of New York State election laws.”

Ghorra told the Brooklyn Eagle, “It boggles the mind and raises serious questions of legality by having paid workers selected and directed by a Democratic mayoral administration (directly or indirectly) and certain elected Brooklyn Democratic City Council members, all of whom are candidates on the ballot in this election cycle — to be sent into polling stations (or within the 100-feet boundary) which no paid campaign person or even campaign volunteers are EVER allowed to be. It’s a violation of New York state election laws.”

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis is also concerned. She was quoted by the Post saying, “Any help with translation should be done by the Board of Elections — which is why they have both Republican and Democratic co-workers.” She called it inappropriate for an agency under the control of the mayor to be assisting individuals while they cast their votes.

“Does anyone really trust this administration, especially given the most recent court testimony about pay-to-play revelations?” said Ghorra, referring to corrupt real-estate developer Jona Rechnitz’s claim that his monetary contributions allowed him personal access to the mayor.

“I am absolutely in favor of having Russian and Creole translators at polling stations, but not through a scheme run and directed by people on the ballot.”

Ghorra said it is more than a little curious that City Hall and its City Hall Council would pick this cycle to do this. “This is the job of the BOE to administer in a nonpartisan manner as they do with other language translators already in place,” said Ghorra.

“This is insane and simply more reason to vote these people out of office and restore common decency and order for the sake of all city residents — regardless of party affiliation. We all deserve better than this scheme.”




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