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U.S. English Begins Countdown to Oklahoma Vote

Measure to make English the official language will appear on ballot in exactly one year

November 2, 2009

With exactly one year to go until Election Day 2010, U.S. English is beginning the countdown until Oklahomans get the opportunity to make English the official language of the state. On Nov. 2, 2010, more than 2.1 million registered voters in Oklahoma will get the long-awaited chance to approve an official English measure that would make the Sooner State the 31st to adopt English as the official language of the state.

A “yes” vote on the ballot initiative will make English the official language of the state, requiring that official actions be conducted in English, and declaring that the state cannot be forced to provide multilingual services, except where mandated by federal law. The proposed law will not affect emergency services in languages other than English, nor will it diminish the use, study or development of Native American languages.

The measure was passed as H.J.R. 1042 through the Oklahoma legislature with broad bi-partisan approval. Taken up by the Senate in April, it was approved 44-2 in that chamber and sailed through the House of Representatives by an 89-8 vote in May. According to an April 2009 survey by, 86 percent of likely voters in Oklahoma favor making English the official language of the state.

Voter referendums to make English the official language of the state have appeared on nine statewide ballots since 1986. All of these initiatives have passed, beginning with California (1986), Colorado (1988), Alabama (1988), Arizona (1988) and Florida (1988). In 1998 Alaskans passed an official English measure with 69 percent of the vote, followed two years later by a successful measure in Utah with 67 percent of the voters in support. Arizona voters placed a new official English measure on the books by nearly a 3:1 margin in 2006, while Missourians voted to strengthen the state’s official English law with 86 percent of the vote in Nov. 2008.


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