At Los Primos Deli in Rochester, Leonides Matos is among the bilingual customers. She moved to Rochester from Puerto Rico four years ago. She said at first it was tough. "When I first came here I didn't understand very well, and it kind of upset me because I wanted to know what the weather was about, and I didn't know, and I had to find somebody to explain it to me, and sometimes there was nobody to explain it to me and I was like, wow," she said.
Now more conversant in English, Matos is comfortable voting. But she understands the frustration her friends who only speak Spanish feel on election day. "They don't understand what they're saying or what they're trying to explain to you or what the papers are saying and stuff like that, and sometimes they don't have somebody that can translate for them," she said.
The Monroe County Board of Elections wants every eligible voter to feel comfortable at the ballot box. "Our goal is to make sure everyone who wants to participate can participate,' said Commissioner Peter Quinn.
Monroe is one of 10 counties statewide identified by the Office of the Attorney General with a significant Spanish speaking population. Just over five percent of the county is Puerto Rican. Rochester is 12 percent Puerto Rican and 15 percent hispanic. Quinn said the County will provide Spanish speaking interpreters at the 280 election districts that fall within the need for help. In addition, the County has election materials printed in Spanish and a Spanish tab on the Board of Elections website. "We do budget in for the inspector/interpreter program for Spanish speaking, we have that in place already, so there are costs involved but there are costs involved in anything you do," he said.
Quinn said County election officials will meet with representatives from the Office of the Attorney General in the next two weeks to evaluate the County's process.