Former Colorado Secretary of State and current U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R) has introduced legislation set to repeal a key component of the 1973 Voting Rights Act. Coffman has his sights set on the requirement that jurisdictions with large populations of nonproficient English speakers print ballots in more than one language.
According to Coffman, the bilingual election requirements are unnecessary and present a financial hardship to states because of the increased cost of translating and printing election materials and mailing larger ballots. “Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all,” Coffman said.
Of course, Coffman’s analysis hits only half the issue. He refers to a provision of the U.S. Citizenship application that mandates those individuals seeking citizenship in the United States be proficient in English. But he is silent on how his plan to exclude multilingual and bilingual publications will affect people who are citizens by virtue of birth but who do not have the required English proficiency.
Make no mistake about it, the people who will be most impacted by Coffman’s proposals are American citizens who have the right to vote. Like every other “voter protection” initiative put forward by the Republicans, this one smacks of bigotry and fear, not honest efforts, creating clean and transparent elections.
Photo from kristina via flickr.