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Korean Am. Voters Turned Away

Posted: Nov 09, 2012

Kum Ho Lee, 64, is a naturalized American citizen from South Korea who was all set to vote for the first time this past week. According to a report in the Korea Daily, however, a poll worker turned the Atlanta resident away after questioning Lee’s citizenship.

The report noted that Lee was told to go to the county office, despite the fact that he produced a valid Georgia driver’s license and naturalization papers for the poll worker.

Lee, who has lived in the United States for 30 years, received his citizenship in 2010. He ultimately cast a provisional ballot.

According to the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC), a large number of Asian immigrants, including Koreans, experienced similar treatment at polling places around the country on Election Day.

Helen Kim, an attorney with the AALAC, told the Korea Daily that many Asian voters claimed they hadn’t received notification of where their polling stations were.

A report in the Huffington Post described what the author called a “scene out of the Jim crow era,” with elderly Korean American voters at a polling station in Virginia told to form a separate line. The article noted poll workers had ordered voters to state their addresses, and had grown frustrated when the seniors struggled to respond in English.

President Obama in his victory speech Tuesday night made note of the problems, which also included long lines and lack of interpreters. Voting and civil rights attorneys, meanwhile, say they plan to file a request with the Justice Department to investigate these and other complaints.

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