Problems for new voters
poorly trained poll workers, ID issues cause problems for newly naturalized citizens at the polls
A few troubling stories on problems that newly naturalized citizens had at the polls in last week's election:
Election Problems Included Confusion, Intimidation, Untrained Poll Workers (Huffington Post 11/8/12)
The Korean American seniors "felt bullied," explained Glenn Magpantay, Democracy Program Director with The Asian American Legal Defence and Education Fund. He said multiple voters complained about similar treatment to his office. "They all had their IDs. They thought that would help."
When poll workers grew frustrated that the seniors didn't understand the instructions, they ordered all the Korean Americans waiting to vote to form a new line. "Korean people stand in a separate line," Leo recalled the poll worker calling out to everyone. Leo's group complied..."What I've seen so many times is when you have a community that's growing and excited to participate in American democracy ... you often see a countervailing force that pushes them down or pushes them back," Magpantay said. "It's heartbreaking. These are Korean grandmothers. They want to vote. They are proud to be Americans."
In South Philadelphia, there weren't enough interpreters to assist Vietnamese Americans, Magpantay said. The voters left after no one could assist them.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Son Ah Yun, 36, helped her mother-in-law prepare to vote. She registered her in Cobb County, Ga., before the deadline. Just prior to the big day, Yun said she checked the registration online. Everything looked fine.
Yun said her mother-in-law got up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready. She showered, got dressed and put on her makeup. "Who gets up and gets dressed to look nice and proper to go vote?" Yun joked. Her mother-in-law became a naturalized citizen in 2010. This was her first presidential election.
When they arrived at the poll, they found no line. A poll worker informed her that the computer system showed her registration was in "dispute." She pulled out her driver's license and U.S. passport. Those weren't good enough, Yun said. Her mother-in-law was told she could fill out a "challenge ballot."
After filling out the ballot, Yun said they were told to go to the county elections office to prove her citizenship. If they didn't, her vote would not count. Once there, the mother-in-law's ballot was approved. An elections office staffer explained to Yun that "the poll worker couldn't verify citizenship." (comment: A US passport is not sufficient proof of citizenship?! Since when?--LW)
Similar article on problems Korean-Americans experienced in Atlanta:
Korean American Voters Turned Away (Korea Daily 11/9/12)