Experts Release New Report Underscoring Continuing Need for Voting Rights Enforcement in New York

Media 04.5.06

New York – Nationally recognized voting rights experts released a new, sharply focused report on voting rights enforcement in New York this morning citing blatant voting rights violations such as an incident where a New York City polling site coordinator yelled, “You f—ing Chinese, there’s too many of you!” at interpreters assisting voters with translation questions.

Commissioned by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund through, a coalition of national and grassroots civil rights organizations working to renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, the report – Voting Rights in New York 1982-2006 – documents in meticulous detail recent examples of voting rights violations.

“The Voting Rights Act has been the pivotal force behind the nation’s progress toward protecting the right to vote,” said Nancy Zirkin deputy director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. “But as this report documents, despite progress made, barriers to full and equal minority voter participation remain.”

The Voting Rights Act bans racial discrimination in voting nationwide. Passed in 1965 it prohibits discrimination practices like literacy tests and unfair redistricting schemes. Congress is currently considering whether to renew several key protections – providing for language assistance, Election Day monitors and Justice Department pre-approval of voting changes- that are set to expire next August.

New York provides challenges for administering fair elections. In New York City alone there are 5,797 election districts. Any given city-wide election involves close to 6,400 voting machines staffed by some 25,000 poll workers.

The data-rich report, authored by Juan Cartagena of the Community Service Society, includes recent examples of voting rights violations that document in vivid detail the continued need for renewing the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

The report was released by Zirkin, Cartagena, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund executive director Margaret Fung, and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund associate director of litigation Debo Adegbile on an audio briefing. It is posted on The report is one of 14 state reports that have been requested by Congress to examine the impact of the Voting Rights Act over the past 25 years, the last time the Act was fully reauthorized. The other reports document voting rights enforcement in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.