Local Latinos file lawsuit over alleged voter suppression

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local Latinos are taking legal action against the Monroe County Board of Elections after a mishap at one polling site on primary day.

The federal compliant — which was filed on Tuesday — cites a violation of civil rights.

35 people have put their name on the lawsuit, claiming their right to vote was violated and claiming voter suppression in the most Hispanic populated area in Rochester.

“I got the feeling that’s why they’re treating us, the Hispanic old people, like they don’t have value or the power of our vote,” said Belen Colon who is one of the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Belen Colon has been voting in Monroe county’s primaries and elections since 1964. Colon looked forward to casting her vote for her pick for state senate, but she says her preferred candidate’s name wasn’t even printed on the ballot. She feels on primary day her right as a Latina was violated.

“My happiness disappeared because the person that I was very proud of, I was proud of all the candidates. The person I was planning to vote for was the Puerto Rican’s lady’s name was not there, it was a disappointment. It made me angry,” said Colon.

Polling locations in the North Clinton Avenue area were changed from Los Flamboyanes to 13 Vienna St, the Baden Street Settlement. The Monroe County Board of Elections has said the change was due to the pandemic and they didn’t have enough volunteers.

The suit claims  candidates’ names weren’t printed on the ballot. Voters weren’t registered under a particular party and there were no Spanish interpreters. Additionally, poll workers weren’t following COVID-19 safety measures.

“But as voters, we like to see that happened. But if it doesn’t, we demand change. We want to see accountability for what’s happening. I’m sorry for minimizing, It’s every day they continue to minimize the value of the latino vote and that has to stop,” said Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons, who is also a plaintiff listed in the lawsuit.

The Monroe County Board of Elections did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

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