The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

At a press conference in the heart of Brooklyn’s Russian-American community, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) and State Senator David Storobin (R-Brooklyn) today announced the passage of groundbreaking legislation they introduced that will require all voting materials, including ballots, to be translated into Russian.

Also celebrating the bill’s passage were leaders from the Russian-American community and elected officials including Assemblymembers Alec Brook-Krasny and Helene Weinstein and State Senator Diane J. Savino. The announcement was made outside Tatiana Restaurant on the Brighton Beach Boardwalk.

“This historic legislation marks the dawn of a new day for Russian-speaking New Yorkers who have been unfairly excluded from the democratic process due to a language barrier,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “For the first time, Russian-speaking voters will be able to walk into the polling place on Election Day, look at a ballot, and say, ‘Now I belong.’”

Senator Storobin added, “This legislation is long overdue and will finally ensure that Russian-speaking Americans’ voting rights are protected here in Brooklyn and across New York State. I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate for taking this necessary action for our community.”

The legislation (A.10609/S.7812) requires New York City and other municipalities with populations of more than a million to provide written Russian language assistance for voters. This includes ballots, signs, voter mailings, employee and volunteer training materials and information on the Board of Elections’ website. In New York City, voting materials are already translated into five other languages.

Besides the press release, Cymbrowitz posted the following statement on his Facebook page:

Today I held a news conference on the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach to announce the passage of historic legislation I introduced that will require the Board of Elections to translate ballots and other voting materials into Russian. Joining me was State Senator David Storobin, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, and several of my legislative colleagues. For the first time, our Russian-speaking neighbors will be able to participate fully in the democratic process without the burden of a language barrier. Equally important, we worked together to make it happen. Democrat, Republican, Russian-speaking, non-Russian speaking, we all embraced the spirit of inclusion that the measure represents. No matter what language you speak, everyone deserves a voice in our democracy. (From left: Assemblyman William Colton, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Senator Storobin, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and State Senator Diane J. Savino.)

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  • A2323232

    haha, they’re both just trying to court Russian voters.  In reality, no one gives a crap and this will be a huge waste of taxpayer money

  • Gene2T

    YES YES!~! we dont want to miss any babushka voters.. do we now? Babushka.. voters. are the best kind of voters you can just tell them *use the force* who to vote for and they simply go and vote..

    ” these are not the droids we are looking for”

  • Arthur Borko

    I hate programs like this. They have nothing to do with inclusion and everything to do with keeping the voter bloc’s separated and segregated. Divided We Fall.

  • EndofDaze

    See, and many of us once thought, that “The Russians are Coming”, “The Russians are Coming”, would just remain, a funny movie , from our youth! Along with a slew of other Slavs, as we say, They’re here! Das vadanya everybody!

  • bagels

    Hard to believe english competency is not a prerequisite to US citizenship.

    • http://kibblesbits.wordpress.com/ Ann

      Considering the errors in your comment, that’s pretty funny.  Now, did you know that those who live in Puerto Rico are citizens? What do they speak there?  Did you know we don’t have a national language? And did you ever live in a country where they spoke another language? Even if you are fluent in the language of the country you are in, it’s often easier to do things in your native language.  I’ve learned that in my travels.  It’s not a big deal, especially when you consider people like you butcher the English language on some level, too.

      • bagels

        It takes years to become a US citizen. Like I said, one would expect some level of English proficiency but, you’re right, we should make things easier and, in the process, not have any expectation of assimilation. 

        • applegreen

          they dont want to assimilate. 

      • applegreen

        competency and proficiency/fluency are not the same thing. I think what bagels was trying to point out, that it would be helpful for everybody living in the same city, state, country to know the basics of the main language around them. 

        Personally, it upsets me when i see immigrants who have lived here for 20 years or even 5 years who haven’t picked up the basics of English (regardless of their native tongue). Sure its easier, but its not better. 

    • Kool4Coney

      The United States has NO Official Language so it isn’t really hard to believe that proficiency with English is not a prerequisite to becoming a citizen.

  • Kon

    Aren’t you required to be able to speak English to get a US Citizenship? And don’t you need a US Citizenship to vote? So why does it matter? If you have a US Citizenship than you had to learn to speak English so you should be able to understand the English on the ballot.

    • Neighbor

      I totally agree with you. However, to be fair, remove all materials in any language other than English. No Chinese, no Spanish, etc. Lots of money could be saved too.

    • applegreen

      yes, but there are other languages on the ballot. why not russian. 

  • Alex

    What a news! Three or so years ago the same bill was passed by both Senate and Assembly. City has no money to comply. What the difference between these bills? Ups, upcoming election. And city still has no money to comply.
     Is it our democracy to have no say how to spend taxpayers money? Waste!

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  • Downwithcymbrowitz

    So, do tell me, how do these so called Russians pass the citizenship test, yet they need Russian Language voting materials.  This is total BS.
    This is AMERICA, IT’S ABOUT TIME YOU SPOKE ENGLISH.  Wonder if they also know how to beat the system when it comes to taking the citizenship test, as they seem to
    know how to beat the system and get everything for free.  I wonder if the ambulette also takes these parasites to vote and then takes them shopping.  I see these Russians getting into the ambulettes and coming back with plastic shopping bags. Hmmm—

    Too bad our VETERANS don’t get the special treatment these leaches get.

    Shame on any politician that wants to cater to them.  These politicians don’t deserve our votes in the future.  

  • Kool4Coney

    I am not opposed to having election material translated into other languages but there are way to many languages spoken in NY to be able to fairly do this kind of thing for everyone so I propose that private groups step up and pay for these.  I am sure Mr Storobin knows of a Group that is tasked to help new Russian Speaking Citizens take  an active part in both political and civic activities without being barred by a Language Barrier and he should have gone to one of these groups and asked THEM to help with this instead of NY Tax payers because we are already burdened enough just keeping our schools, libraries, Police stations and Firehouses open and fully staffed.

  • Tinafg

    Cymbrowitz – you’re a whore and a sell out.  You’re afraid you’re gonna lose your seat to a Russian.  And to all you Russians out there – this is America.  Speak and read English or you don’t have the rights you want.  GOD!!!!!  What have we done to our country???????????

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