Posted on October 28, 2004

Poll Worker Fired, Accused Of Inappropriate Remark

Joan Mazzolini, Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Oct. 27

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections fired a poll worker Tuesday after he was accused of making an inappropriate statement regarding non-English speaking voters.

At least two people who attended an election training class said Martin Drabek made a comment opposing voting assistance for Hispanics who do not understand English. The two who made the allegations against Drabek are Hispanic and said in a statement that he mentioned his parents had emigrated from Poland and had to learn English.

“We can’t tolerate that,” said Jane Platten, an elections board administrator on Drabek’s removal.

Drabek Tuesday said that during the part of the training that deals with language barriers, he did mention that his parents were from Poland and had learned English. Drabek, who has taught more than 60 classes, denied saying anything about any particular ethnicity, but said he mentioned that he doesn’t believe voting ballots should be in any other language than English. Ohio ballots are only in English.

“If someone took offense, or thought I was insensitive, I would apologize.”

A group of Hispanics protested at the board Tuesday asking for an apology and their concerns that the board would discourage people who do not speak English from voting.

Drabek was not a full-time board employee, but was a temporary poll worker-trainer.