By Elizabeth Elizalde
Just in time for election day.
Voter registration forms in five new languages — Russian, Urdu, Haitian Creole, French and Arabic — are available under the City’s effort to expand voting participation, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
“No one should be disenfranchised because of their language,” the mayor said. “These voter registration forms in five new languages will help us involve even more New Yorkers in the voting process. New York is a city of immigrants, and these forms will help New Yorkers of every background cast their ballots on Election Day.”
New York City is home to 3.7 million foreign-born immigrants, according to census numbers.
“We are sending a clear message: civic participation matters for all New Yorkers and all citizens should be able to exercise their right to vote,” Nisha Agarwal, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said during a press conference at the Homecrest Library in Sheepshead Bay.
Mayor de Blasio’s administration has already taken steps to increase voter participation and to reduce electoral barriers. He has worked with the City Council to make sure voter registration agencies provide people – many first-time voters — with assistance when completing their forms.
Election day is a couple of months away and the City will add more voter registration forms in other languages beyond those announced today. This provides eligible New York voters who have limited English language skills with access to translated registration forms.
In previous election cycles, voter registration forms were available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Bangla. Forms in those languages are still available to the public.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams praised the mayor’s initiative and said it “strengthens the vibrancy of our democracy.” He said it allows voices of immigrants to be heard, especially Brooklynites who speak those languages every day.
“Every citizen has a right to be engaged in civic life, no matter what their mother tongue may be,” Adams said.