Interpreter Program in NYC Organized by a Candidate on the Ballot

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a candidate on the ballot tomorrow, is sending Russian and Haitian Creole translators paid by the City to the polls over the objections of the City Board of Elections:

The mayor, who is up for reelection, will have his own Office of Immigrant Affairs station 40 Russian- and Haitian Creole-language interpreters outside 20 polling places in southern Brooklyn on Election Day, at a total cost to taxpayers of around $8,000 in funding from the City Council. . . . But Board of Elections President Frederick 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,” he said, according to a recording of the Oct. 10 meeting. . . . 

De Blasio's challenger also believes that it is unrealistic to expect interpreters paid for by one of the candidates on the ballot to act as neutral translators:

De Blasio’s Republican challenger, Nicole Malliotakis, cried foul when told about the Democratic incumbent’s plan. . . . “It is inappropriate for an agency that is under the control of the mayor to be assisting individuals when they’re casting their ballot.” 

“Everything is controlled by the mayor — that makes it a concern,” the Staten Island assemblywoman added.

While we hope that the interpreters will only be assisting voters to vote as the voters desire, there have been reports in previous elections of interpreters pressuring voters to vote for a certain candidate or party.  The RNLA will be monitoring events in New York City tomorrow and posting updates about the state and local elections happening around the country on its Twitter feed.