City finally launches pilot program to hire Russian-speaking poll workers

Photo by Matt Tracy/Coney Island News

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Goodwill Foundation launched a hiring campaign to recruit Russian-speaking translators to work at 20 poll sites in Southern Brooklyn.

Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan forwarded us a job description detailing the position, which emerged following repeated instances of dysfunction and language barriers experienced by foreign-language speaking voters — particularly those who speak Russian.

“Huge credit goes to Councilmember Mark Treyger,” Kagan said to Coney Island News. “It is a pilot program and a very good step in the right direction.”

Treyger spoke earlier this month in front of a group of Board of Elections commissioners to advocate for Russian and Haitian Creole-speaking interpreters at select poll sites in the city.

“We cannot alienate 150,000 New Yorkers from taking advantage of their right to vote, and fulfilling their duty to do so,” Treyger said. “If we are to ensure that the voting process is a fair and equitable one, providing language access for voters is a must.”

Last month, Kagan told Coney Island News that many Russsian-speaking voters who resided within eastern Coney Island’s City Council district 48 asked for his assistance as they struggled to overcome language barriers on the day of the Sept. 12 primary. Many never received translation services, while others even noticed that their parties changed without their consent.

Some of the polling stations did have Russian interpreters. Thea Nelli, a Board of Elections coordinator at St. Marks Schools, told Coney Island News in an interview that there were two Russian-speaking inspectors — one for Democrats and one for Republicans — at her polling site.

The new job posting, which requires the poll workers to be fluent in both English and Russian, entails a six-hour pre-election training, a 16-hour election day shift, and a three-hour post-election debriefing.

About Matt Tracy 159 Articles
Matt is a reporter with experience covering neighborhood news, politics, sports, and more. Send news tips to

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