Colorado Rep. Wants English Only Ballots


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.


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Photo from kristina via flickr.

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Deborah G.
Deborah G.4 years ago

Jane R -- You scare me!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

Coffman, don't be a prick. Give people a break, and help them out. It takes time to learn another language, and I venture to say that Coffman only speaks one.

Jane R.
Jane R.4 years ago

Anyone out there remember the song "If I Had a Hammer"? Well if I had a hamer and access to the heads of all politicians, and especially to our "Muslim" president I'd surely hammer into their heads that this is the United States and our language is English!! I hate it when I go shopping and everyone around me speaks another language. Let them speak it at home but in a public place they should speak our language! If they want to speak another then they should go home! This is our country, not theirs. If they want to live here and vote, then they should learn our language. We should not have to cater to them!!

Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

Many years ago, I grew up in a predominantly Polish neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey. This neighborhood was established by Polish immigrants, of which my grandparents were part.
My grandparents spoke very little English. The election ballots were NEVER printed in Polish. Immigrants from all countries had to learn to get along in America the American way. Why must we now cater to one element of immigrants ??? Are they too dumb to do what our grandparents did? Or are they just too lazy !!!!

Arthur W.
art W.4 years ago

It would not be such a terrible thing if Americans bothered to learn another language, particularly if it further enables them to communicate with people, immigrants and native USA born, who happen to know Spanish and especially as their numbers increase. Thanks to the bogus "No Child Left Behind" crap, language instruction in schools is disappearing. And it can be fun! A very large proportion of Europeans speak 2 or even more languages besides their own. An American in Holland, for example, would be lost otherwise.
Rep. Coffman's (from the State called Red, as it happens) move is yet another semi-transparent GOP action to limit the rights of citizens to vote if they are not likely to go "R". Their track record on this is clear.

Penny C.
Penny C.4 years ago

I completely agree, English only.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush4 years ago

Completely, do I agree with this premise. This validates anyone's vote.
If I was a resident of Mexico or any other Spanish speaking country, I would need to have the knowledge of their language, in order to vote.
This idea _helps_, not hampers, people of other languages. No one can make an issue of the vote, with this method.

This works for everyone.

Phil S.
Phil S.4 years ago

If you can't read a ballot in english, should you even be voting?

Alot of the propositions are so complicated even if you can read english they are still confusing.

Learn the language- solamente ingles' ( English Only)

Veronica C.
Veronica C.4 years ago

He's absolutely right. Every ballot in the country should be in English ONLY.

Carole C.
Carole Chowen4 years ago

Ok, I guess we in Colorado better get busy translating all the Spanish city, county, landmark river, etc. names in the state, including the name of the state itself into English. Buena Vista, Salida, Dolores, Cortez, Durango, Alamosa, .......I could go on and on.