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The Empire

Queens to add Indian language(s) to election material--but which?

This came over the wire a few days ago. It looks like the population of people from the Indian subcontinent has past the five percent threshold in Queens, which, by Federal law, means the Board of Elections needs to provide that population with materials in their language.

Of course, there are (at least) 144 different dialects in India. The big four that are under consideration, according to conversations with the Census and Sarah Steiner, an election lawyer and former Queens Assistant DA, are:

  • Hindi
  • Urdu
  • Gujarati
  • Pashto
  • There's also a possibility of Bengali being included

The Department of Justice is actually responsible for working with local election officials to decide where, specifically, the languages need to be available, how election officials will make the languages available (interpreters, printed on ballots, etc.), as well as which languages will actually be used.

"The Department of Justice has not yet figured out what it's going to do," Steiner said.

Officials from the Census Bureau, as well as the New York City Board of Elections, were unavailable for comment at this time. When they get back to me, I'll post any updates.