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"Jim Crow" Scene on Election Day in Annandale: "Korean people stand in a separate line!"

by: lowkell

Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 11:19:23 AM EST


Completely outrageous.
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County Democratic Committee (FCDC) Chair Cesar Del Aguila, much of the problem in this precinct resulted from "old, outdated, manual poll books," combined with communications difficulties.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

lowkell :: "Jim Crow" Scene on Election Day in Annandale: "Korean people stand in a separate line!"
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Were any "True the Vote" (4.00 / 1)
poll watchers present, or similar rightwing meddlers and vote suppressers at the polls? I ask because the business of stating your name and address loudly seems to be part of the whole methodology in Virginia to get your little VOTE slip which you give to the functionary (volunteer) preparing the voting machines to accept your vote. Since Annandale is in some ways a "Korean-American" precinct, I am surprised there was not a poll watcher present to translate if necessary. Did we not have translaters (for other languages) available in some precincts in Fairfax anyway?

I think that putting the Koreans in a separate line may not have been intended as a modern Jim Crow, but came about simply because their lack of English skills meant they did not "get" the routine the poll workers had to enforce, and it speeded up the voting line over-all to quarantine them (so to speak). Sounds flimsy, I know, but my point is, there msay not have been Jim Crow malice in this cse, simpoly harrassed poll workers trying to deal with a glitch.  


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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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