According to the 2010 census, the Hispanic population of Montgomery County is 11.3 percent — roughly double that of adjacent Schenectady County. So how is it that the latter can abide by an order from the state attorney general to accommodate Spanish-speaking voters at the polls where the former can’t?
As a story in yesterday’s Gazette indicated, Schenectady County wasted little time responding to a directive sent to 10 upstate counties with large Hispanic populations last August by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to ensure that Hispanic voters understand who the candidates for which offices are, where they’re supposed to vote, how to decipher their ballots, etc.
Within weeks, Schenectady’s election commissioners say they’d signed a binding memorandum of agreement, promising to furnish a translator on Election Day in all census tracts with a Hispanic population of 5 percent or more; as well as Spanish-language ballots, voting literature, and mailed notices prior to the election. And they were able to meet the requirements without spending any extra money, and thus were able to address the issue without seeking legislative approval.
Montgomery County’s election commissioners came close, but couldn’t seal the deal: The notices they mailed prior to the November election weren’t translated. Officials claimed that because it would have cost money to do so, they needed Board of Supervisors’ approval.
It’s not too late to get it and fully comply with the attorney general’s demands, especially since the AG’s office seems pretty lax about the whole thing. But pre-Election Day notices are important if you want people to vote, so we hope Montgomery County agrees to abide by this provision, whether it formally signs the AG’s memorandum or not.