It’s time to end foreign-language voter ballots

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Last week, the Census Bureau released its list of covered jurisdictions that will be required to provide bilingual ballots for the upcoming 2012 elections. This list includes 248 counties in 25 states. 100% of the counties in California, Texas, and Florida will be required to foot the burdensome bill to print foreign-language ballots and to hire bilingual poll workers.

Is your county on the list?

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was originally enacted to prohibit state and local governments from denying or abridging the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” a right guaranteed by the 15th Amendment. But in 1975, Congress greatly expanded the VRA’s original intent by inserting special protections for “language minorities” –that is, American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and citizens of Spanish Heritage. Although the bilingual ballot provisions were originally intended to be temporary remedies, Congress renewed them in 1982, 1992, and again in 2006 for another 25 years.

Congress should REPEAL bilingual ballots for these reasons:

Protection for limited English proficient voters already exists. Current law states: “Any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write,” including limited English proficient persons, “may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice.”

They contradict current naturalization law and undermine assimilation. Since 1907, Congress has required candidates for naturalization to demonstrate “an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak English in ordinary usage in the English language.”

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They are unfunded mandates and a growing financial burden on affected states and counties. Los Angeles County, for example, paid $3.3 million in 2002 to provide materials in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino.

They are wasteful. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported to Congress in 1986 that there was widespread evidence that multilingual ballots and election materials are barely used in practice.

They increase the risk of errors and fraud. Multilingual ballots have resulted in a series of embarrassing errors. In 2000, six polls in heavily Chinese precincts of Queens, N.Y. had “Democratic” translated in Chinese as “Republican.” Bilingual ballots also increases the risk that non-citizens will knowingly or unknowingly vote illegally, and increases the risk of voter intimidation, manipulation, and fraud.

The American people are opposed to multilingual ballots. A June 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 58 percent of likely voters including 60 percent of independent voters oppose printing ballots in languages other than English.

There is no justification for this absurd, arbitrary and budget busting provision, especially since it means that every municipality within a covered jurisdiction must provide multilingual election materials—even if everyone there speaks English!


Was your county on the list?

If so, here are TWO things you can do to help fight back:

If your county is on the list, call your local county clerk’s office NOW!

Urge your county clerk to consider bringing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bilingual ballot provisions contained in Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1964!

Call and email your Congressman NOW and tell him to co-sponsor H.R. 1164, the National Language Act of 2011, if he has not yet signed on in support.

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This bill would repeal the bilingual ballot mandate for federal elections in addition to making English the official language of the U.S.!

Capitol Switchboard:
(202) 224-3121

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