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U.S. English Extra: Bilingual ballots send wrong message to immigrants

U.S. English Extra: Bilingual ballots send wrong message to immigrants

February 21, 2012

To the Editor:

I recently received a notice from the Montgomery Board of Elections informing me that my polling place had changed due to redistricting. While I appreciate the information, I was dismayed to see that the materials I received are all printed in two languages—the English text is mirrored with Spanish translations.

As an immigrant myself, I have experienced firsthand the challenge of learning English. But I have also seen the opportunities that open when one does learn the common language of America. According to Census data, 12.9 percent of Montgomery County residents speak English ‘less than very well.’ With more than 90 percent of Americans speaking English, and with English growing as the language of global commerce, the government is only hurting non-English speakers by providing translations in other languages and perpetuating the myth that this is an English-optional society.

Providing foreign language translations removes the incentive for immigrants to learn English. Rather than spending taxpayer money to print multilingual ballots and forms, the Montgomery County Board of Elections should instead print materials in English and consider using the money saved on translations to allow the county to create additional English learning programs to help put non-English speakers on the path to success.


Mauro E. Mujica
U.S. English, Inc.

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