Sunday, February 07, 2016

Georgia Counties Reject Bilingual Ballots

Robert Vandervoort
Executive Director of ProEnglish
January 22, 2016

It is gratifying that Gwinnett and Hall counties in Georgia are rejecting demands by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) to provide Spanish ballots, voter guides, poll workers and website information for future elections.

GALEO, which is citing Section 203 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, is well known in the Peach State for trying to undermine English as the tie that binds us all as Americans. It is now threatening to sue in court to get its way.

That's why U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, is rightly rapping GALEO:

"Requirements such as those proposed would unnecessarily burden counties that are already facing budget constraints. There is no reason to create a new burden on counties with an initiative that will have little impact for its citizens. Unreasonable demands by activist groups do not establish justification to change policies, especially when American citizens already have the right to bring translators with them to polling places."

Several General Accounting Office reports, by the way, reveal such ballots are rarely used—probably because English proficiency is required for one to become a U.S. citizen.

There is no justification for this arbitrary and budget busting Voting Rights Act provision, especially since it has been interpreted in recent years to mean that every municipality within a "covered" minority jurisdiction must provide multilingual election materials— even if everyone there speaks English.

The genesis of all this occurred in 1975, when Congress broadened the Act to include special protections for "language minorities" such as American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaskan natives, and citizens of Spanish heritage like residents in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico. (Congress made Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens in 1917.) This "remedy" was to be temporary, although Congress renewed this provision in 2007.

Specifically, counties must provide multilingual election materials under Sections 203(c) and 4(f)(4) if one or more of the following conditions is met:

* More than 5 percent of the jurisdiction's total voting age citizens are members of a protected "language-minority" group, or

* The illiteracy rate of such language-minority group citizens is higher than the national illiteracy rate, or

* More than 10,000 of the jurisdiction's voting age citizens are members of a protected language-minority group.

One more point. In a wide variety of ways— including language assistance settlement decrees imposed on local governments by the U.S. Justice Department that require the hiring of bilingual election workers— Section 203 increases the risk of election fraud, voter intimidation and voter manipulation.

As Congressman Collins points out, U.S. citizens already have the right to bring someone to translate for them at the polling place if that is needed. GALEO has produced no evidence of anyone being denied their right to vote because of language.


ProEnglish Executive Director writes Op-Ed for Washington Times


Robert Vandervoort
Executive Director of ProEnglish
October 28, 2015

Toward making English the official tongue

The profusion of languages has created a din of Babel

"Almost 1 in 10 adults of working age in the U.S. have limited proficiency in 
English, more than 2.5 times as many as in 1980."
— 2014 report by the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institute
The study from the Washington-based Brookings Institute showing that workers'
English skills are steadily declining is a shocker, especially since immigrant workers
and their children will account for most of the growth in our nation's labor force in
coming decades. It is therefore imperative, the study concludes, that investing in
English instruction "is critical to maintaining a skilled workforce."
In a recent analysis by the American Community Survey, a huge surge was recorded
in those who speak Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and Urdu, Pakistan's national language.
Consider that alarming trend, and then reflect on the latest Center for Immigration
Studies report, released in early October. It says a record 63.2 million U.S. residents
— native-born, legal immigrants and illegal immigrants — now speak a language 
other than English at home. That represents a surge of 16.2 million since 2000
and 1.4 million just since 2013.
No wonder Donald Trump and several other presidential candidates are addressing
the issue of English. But now it is time that public policymakers at the federal and
state level address this growing problem, especially since various polls reflect where
the American people stand on a major aspect of this issue. In fact, a recent
Rasmussen poll found that approximately 84 percent of likely voters agree that
English should be designated by Congress as the official language of our
government operations.
With President Obama's executive "deferral" order that essentially grants amnesty
to millions of illegal aliens — which means giving them work permits and photo IDs
— the problem of limited English or non-English speakers going into the workforce
is only going to get worse. The order will serve as a magnet to draw a new wave of
illegal immigration. School systems in all 50 states already are dealing with this
year's surge of Central American children across the porous border. Costs are rising
due to the addition of non-English speaking students, with additional bilingual and
even multilingual teachers needed. (To cite just one example, the school system in
DeKalb County, Ga., says approximately 150 different languages are spoken among
its students. Translators, obviously, have to be hired.)
Aside from the fact that assimilation and Americanization have been crucial to our
success as a heterogeneous nation, not having English as the sole language of our
government and schools is creating miscommunication among people, adding to
mounting taxpayer expense and even posing a serious public safety hazard.
For example, an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton (E.O. 13166)
requires federal agencies and funds recipients to provide translations and
interpreters for non-English speakers in their native language — at taxpayer expense.
Also, what is common sense to most people is not for many state officials charged
with protecting public safety. In state after state, they are caving into pressure
from "immigrants' rights" groups to make driver's license examinations and manuals
available not only in Spanish but in many other languages.
Help support ProEnglish's efforts to make English the official language of the
Federal, state, and local governments by clicking the donate button to
make a secure donation of $15, $25, $35, or whatever amount you can afford.

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