ProEnglish blasts new bilingual ballot

ProEnglish blasts Census’ new bilingual ballot burden

October 12, 2011

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ARLINGTON, Va.– “Newly-released census numbers will impose new financial burdens on states and localities as bilingual voting provisions of the Voting Rights Act kick in,” says ProEnglish Executive Director K.C. McAlpin after the Census Bureau released its list of jurisdictions required to provide bilingual ballots for the 2012 elections. The Census just announced today that 25 states and 248 counties are subject to this unfunded federal mandate which requires those jurisdictions to provide bilingual ballots despite a General Accounting Office report revealing that such ballots are hardly ever used.

“In 1975 Congress amended the Voting Rights Act  to add bilingual voting assistance for four protected language ‘minority groups’– American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives and citizens of Spanish heritage – due to those groups’ unequal access to educational opportunities,” McAlpin says. “Even though English is required for naturalization, a jurisdiction has to provide bilingual ballots and election materials if the number of U.S. voting age citizens from one of those language groups top 10,000 people or constitute more than five percent of all voting age citizens in that jurisdiction.”

“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,” McAlpin notes. “The fact that Census includes those who say they speak English ‘well’ as needing voting assistance, and has expanded the list to include people from India who rank at the top in terms of educational achievement, shows just how corrupt its implementation is,” he added.

“Congress never appropriated funds to help localities and states comply with the 1975 bilingual ballot amendment, yet they will be forced to spend a whopping amount of their election budgets on this insanity. Los Angeles County, for example, paid $3.3 million in 2002 to provide materials in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino,” McAlpin continues.

“U.S. citizens already have the right to bring someone to translate for them at the polling place. No one is being denied their right to vote because of language,” McAlpin says.