U.S. English Calls Voting Rights Act Bilingual Ballot Privision Burdensome, Unnecessary
October 14, 2011
Washington, DC— U.S.English CEO and Chairman of the Board Mauro E. Mujica today released this statement in response to a recent Census Bureau announcement that 248 counties and political jurisdictions nationwide fall under a Voting Rights Act provision requiring them to provide election materials in an array of languages:
“The Voting Rights Act is a landmark piece of legislation in our nation’s history and has served to guarantee and protect a uniquely American right: the ability of all United States citizens to vote. Regrettably, due to an ill-considered amendment that was not part of the original Act, counties and jurisdictions in 25 states are now required to use taxpayer money to print election materials in foreign languages, in time for November’s elections.
“The purpose of this bilingual ballot provision was to increase the voter turnout of language minorities. The naturalization process here in the United States, however, already requires an ability to read, write and speak English. Consequently, all legal citizens who wish to vote should already be able to use a ballot printed in English.
“Bilingual ballots only serve to further divide our society. By providing translations only in selective languages, we are isolating additional foreign-language speakers. By providing ballot translations, we are delaying the progress of immigrants to assimilate to the American culture. Citizens who cannot speak English cannot advance to the same level of success as their English-speaking counterparts. Instead of catering to foreign-language speakers, the government should instead focus on providing resources to help non-English speakers learn the language of commerce in America.”
Since its passage in 1965, Congress has amended and extended coverage of the act in 1970, 1975, 1982, and 1992. Most recently, in 2006, Congress reauthorized Section 203, the bilingual election requirement, now set to expire in 2032. Several bills aimed at eliminating funding of bilingual ballots, amending the Voting Rights Act bilingual voting provisions, and making English the official language of the United States have since been introduced, although none have yet to be signed into law.
U.S. English, Inc. is the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, U.S. English, Inc. (www.usenglish.org) now has more than 1.8 million members.