For Immediate Release
February 1, 2008
Contacts: Eun Sook Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703
Hee Joo Yoon, KRC, 323-937-3718
Significant Move Made to Protect Minority Voting Rights
Glendale City Council Puts Absentee Ballot Decision on Hold
(Los Angeles, CA) Community organizations and advocacy groups made an important stride towards protecting minority voting rights on January 29, 2008 when the City Council of Glendale delayed a vote to pass an ordinance that would prohibit third parties from assisting and mailing absentee ballot forms until February 19, 2008. While the Council delayed the vote on the grounds that there was a need to hold a public meeting to clarify the ordinance to the public as well as time to assess the capacity and needs of the city clerk, concerns about the merits of the ordinance were also raised by members of the city council and community members who spoke at the meeting.
Many nonprofit community organizations were present to voice their opposition to the ordinance, including the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the Korean Resource Center (KRC) of Los Angeles, and Strengthening Our Lives.
Also present at the city council meeting were members of KRC’s Power Vote group, a group of community members that meet monthly in order to educate and mobilize the Korean American vote in Los Angeles. They were accompanied by KRC’s Community Health Promoters who held signs stating “Protect Our Vote – NO to the
“The Power Vote group works to educate, outreach, and turn out Korean American voters. This ordinance will threaten every aspect of their work. Hence they came out tonight to stand firm against this proposed ordinance. Since 1996, KRC has provided support and important services to our community members: voter registration, vote-by-mail applications and assistance, and general election information. Alongside our community members like the Power Vote group and the Community Health Promoters, we will continue to protect their right to fully participate in the democratic process,” stated Hee Joo Yoon, Program Director of KRC.
Some twenty community members spoke regarding the ordinance, of which the majority expressed opposition to the ordinance. Among them was Glendale resident Boo Jang Rae. “As a naturalized citizen and immigrant Limited English Proficiency voter, I really need assistance and support from community organization for full civic participation. That’s why I attended and spoke at the city council meeting to oppose the ordinance,” said Bong Rae Jo.
“Nonprofit community groups provide an essential service and meet a real need for our community members. This ordinance will take that service away and leave minority, Limited English Proficient, and senior voters to maneuver the voting process alone. Government should work to make voting as easy and as comfortable as possible, not create barriers to it,” said Eun Sook Lee, Executive Director of NAKASEC.
Following the testimonies, the city attorney read two proposed amendments to be added to the ordinance. The amendments stated that the ordinance would not affect the assistance from third parties to citizens in completing the forms, permanent absentee ballot voters were exempt from the ordinance, and voters with disabilities could have a family member mail in their absentee ballot for them. The council voted to delay the vote in order to hold a community meeting to further discuss the ordinance with the general public and evaluate the feasibility of enacting this ordinance.