Language in America - Bilingual Ballots
|The House of
Representatives recently decided that bilingual ballots
were neither needed nor used. No incidents of
language-related voting discrimination were uncovered in
four hearings by the House Judiciary Committee in 1992
and 1996. One California county spent $46,204 for
bilingual voting materials for 1994 and 1996 elections,
but only one person requested bilingual voting materials.
testimony of Frances Fairey, Yuba County Clerk/Recorder,
before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, April
In 1975, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act to require the use of multilingual voting materials. 42 U.S.C. § 1973b. In 1992, Congress extended the bilingual ballot requirements until the year 2007. 42 U.S.C. § 1973aa-1a. On August 1, 1996, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to eliminate the federal requirement for bilingual ballots. Source: Cong. Rec., Aug. 1, 1996, H9769, H9771, H9772.
U.S. Census Bureau data demonstrates that multilingual voting materials do not increase minority voter participation. Hispanic voter participation has declined since enactment of the bilingual ballot provisions, and the gap between white voting participation and Hispanic citizens voting participation has widened. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, Nos. 174, 228, 293, 344, 383, 414 and 453.
Bilingual ballots also encourage fraud. A 1982 examination of recently-registered voters who used bilingual ballots in San Francisco found that 27 percent were non-citizens who fraudulently registered to vote. Source: Brief for the U.S. Government, Olagues v. Russoniello, U.S. Supreme Court No. 86-1217, P. 6. Today, many non-citizens are registered to vote and participate in American elections. Source: Larry Sabato and Glenn Simpson, "Vote Fraud!" Campaigns & Elections, June 1996, 25-28.