Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Senator David Storobin previously announced the passage of legislation that required all voting materials, including ballots, to be translated into Russian.
The legislation (A.10609/S.7812) stated that New York City and other municipalities with populations of more than a million must provide written Russian language assistance for voters. This would include 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.
However, the New York City Board of Elections has yet to translate any voting materials into Russian. Cymrowitz is speaking out against the inaction and calling for the immediate resignation or termination of the board’s general counsel, Steven Richman.
According to a release from Cymbrowitz’s office, Richman asked the Board of Elections to recommend that Governor Andrew Cuomo veto legislation requiring New York City and other large cities to print ballots and other voting materials in Russian.
Cymbrowitz fired off a strongly-worded letter to Board of Elections president Maria Guastella demanding that Richman be removed from his post.
“Mr. Richman’s action comes after years of inaction. The Board of Elections has refused to abide by a 2009 law, which I fought for, requiring that voting materials be translated into Russian. As the Board’s top legal official, he is responsible for his agency’s failure to abide by the law,” Cymbrowitz said. “Now, with the Legislature’s passage of stronger legislation I introduced, the Board of Elections would prefer to continue discouraging thousands of Russian-speaking New Yorkers from voting rather than developing procedures to comply with the 2009 law.”
In his letter to Guastella, Cymbrowitz writes:
Your non-compliance with the original law and your apparent distaste for the current bill, combined with the headline-making problems that occurred in recent elections, gives me serious doubt regarding your agency’s commitment to properly and expeditiously meet its mandates.
As General Counsel, Mr. Richman must have clearly understood the 2009 law and its intent, yet he, the Board of Elections’ chief legal authority, chose to ignore it. This is both illegal and inexcusable and cause for requesting his immediate resignation, or if this does not occur, his termination.
Richman or Guastella have yet to respond to Cymbrowitz’s letter.