On Election Day, Leo Kim, 34, drove a group of elderly Korean Americans to the polls in Annandale, Va., a Washington suburb. They quickly found themselves in a scene out of the Jim Crow era.
After presenting proper identification, authorities demanded that the seniors say their names and home addresses out loud in English — a tough proposition for some with limited English skills. The poll workers had made similar demands on the other voters.
The Korean American seniors “felt bullied,” explained Glenn Magpantay, Democracy Program Director with The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. He said multiple voters complained about similar treatment to his office. “They all had their IDs. They thought that would help.”
When poll workers grew frustrated that the seniors didn’t understand the instructions, they ordered all the Korean Americans waiting to vote to form a new line. “Korean people stand in a separate line,” Leo recalled the poll worker calling out to everyone. Leo’s group complied.
“Then they started taking the white voters,” Magpantay said. “The Koreans had to wait.”
It’s amazing, not to mention completely unacceptable, that something like this can happen in America anywhere/anytime, let alone in Northern Virginia in the year 2012. Wow.
P.S. This is the same community that Annabel Park and Eric Byler so brilliantly organized in 2006 for Jim Webb. In part, Annabel and Eric did this by making them aware of George Allen’s remarks that there was a “real Virginia,” and that it didn’t include places like Annandale. It’s amazing that 6 years later, that same George Allen was on the ballot in Annandale and that THIS happened.
P.P.S. My understanding is that this incident took place at the Columbia precinct (Annandale Fire Station, Co. #8), which President Obama won with 64% of the vote.
UPDATE: According to Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) Chair Cesar Del Aguila, much of the problem in this precinct resulted from “old, outdated, manual poll books,” combined with communications difficulties. According to Del Aguila, this situation – to his knowledge, anyway – was “not anything deliberate.” Still, he acknowledges, it wasn’t good and “we have to do a better job” in the future…
Photo from the Annandale VA blog