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home : opinion : letters May 24, 2016

11/29/2012 6:00:00 AM
Reader Letter: Why are there non-English ballots?

After watching the Today show last week, where approximately 30 people became U.S. citizen, it struck me that the oath said that these individuals could speak, read and write in English.

Why then is it that our ballots are printed in various languages?

Judith Green

Golden Valley

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012
Article comment by: tj denton

amyrillis smith. english is not our national language, this nation was founded on the premis that all peoples from around the world could come here and have the freedom to speak whatever language they want and to practice whatever religion they want without persecution. granted most of our freedoms are trying to be taken from us and our forefathers would laugh at the nation we are today, but that doesnt change the fact that we still do have some freedoms, being a legal citizen and speaking whatever language you want is one of them. if you expect someone to pay taxes, the government should do some things in return for that citizen no?

Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

"Not a single one of them spoke any Mexican."

I have never in my life met anyone who speaks "Mexican."

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

the 1980s as a graveyard supervisor at the Mohave County Jail a DPS officer brought in a gentleman on vacation with his wife, they were from Sonora, Mexico.He was stopped for speed only but had a misdemeanor warrant out of Sonora. I had tree officers on my shift that night-all Mexican. Not a single one of them spoke any Mexican. Since there was a bond amount, determined me wasn't about to hold him in jail.SO with what I remembered from my spanish classes in Tacna,Peru from 10-12 yrs old-I was able to get all the info collected for court papers, take his money and let him go! Later while at work on swing shift MCSO brought in a group of illegals-all men except for one wife and baby boy-they ask me to help them understand the men would be held inside the facility but the lady and baby would sit outside with me until border patrol arrived-I thought OH MY but I did it and when I ask the lady if the baby would like some milk her lite up like Christmas had arrived!!
The point is that there IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for anyone to be here and not speak and understand english. AND, it is impossible to be profiling if an officer catches illegals out in the desert or stops them and they speak no english,have no license and don't understand a word you say!!!!!!!!!!
So it may be nice to have our ballots in both languages but, it should not be necessary!!

Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Article comment by: Doing Research

For those of you who want to understand a little better how reality works, I have this for you:

Last night I was at a bar in a latino/hipster kid neighborhood that had a TV on in the background tuned to a spanish language channel.

Which Channel? Why Fox's new Spanish language U.S. channel - your trusted Fox News quietly tells you one thing and practices another-


My favorite part was "MundoFox - Americano como tu"
[American - like you!]


Anyway, so one of the commercials was for a law firm asking - in Spanish - "Do you owe the IRS more than $10,000?" and then they have some payment plan thing...

But the point is that Spanish speakers in the U.S. do pay taxes, are American citizens and for whatever reason THEY want, because it's a free country, speak Spanish.

Just thought you'd like to know....

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle


"To follow the laws of our land and be able to speak our language is hardly xenophobia but then, nothing you liberals ever say makes any sense nor follows the original intent of our founders."

As TJ said, the USA does not have a language. So there is no "our language" that you speak of, but I am sure I can guess what you meant.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Doing Research

@ francophone

Bien sur, mec, c'est difficile trouver beaucop de gents Europeens aux etats-unis qui ne parlent pas alglais. Mais c'est parce que les europeens apprennent 2, 3, 4 ou 5 langues dans l'ecole.

My point was that for bi-lingual people it's a nice thing to do for clarity. I had a Romanian landlord who was an old guy that spoke English.... sorta ok... but he was a citizen and had Cook Co. put ballots in Romanian as well, I'm sure he would have been happier.

And if you'd like to get out into the rest of the country you can see a water tower with a Swedish flag painted on it in Chicago.

Also worth looking at: census data of what languages people speak at home:
126,000 fellow Americans speak a Scandinavian language when no one else is looking!


Calm the heck down and ask yourself if you think this 159 page voter guide for AZ makes sense in English for a native speaker - let alone someone who is a citizen who is not fluent:

But if you translate this massive pile of waste with a sample ballot, why not translate the ballot itself?

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Tj Denton

I just have to say that this is the united states. We do not have a national language and it is the "melting pot of the world". If immigrants are here legally then they have the right to speak whatever language they so please. And if they are here legally and pay taxes, then the govt has the obligation to accommodate their needs in government proceedings and events.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Linda Athens


To follow the laws of our land and be able to speak our language is hardly xenophobia but then, nothing you liberals ever say makes any sense nor follows the original intent of our founders.

Ever been to Mexico? Ever tried coming in from the south end of Mexico? Do you know their penalties if you are there illegally?

Let's just say, they don't print everything in other languages for you and they don't give you directions to the food stamp and free health care office.

The first thing I learned when I moved to the Mexican border was, DON'T DO ANYTHING IN JUAREZ TO GET PICKED UP BY THE COPS UNLESS YOU HAVE A LOT OF CASH IN YOUR POCKET. If you don't, you can count on a long stay behind bars in a place not nearly as nice as we provide over here, your family probably won't hear from you in a long time OR WORSE. And that was before the cartels.

My daughter honeymooned in a beautiful spot on the Pacific further down but not before there were visa problems (had to slip them cash to get past that), suitcases lost (more cash to have them found), etc. Get the picture?

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Karel Peckar

Voting is not a simple five minute process. We are exposed to months of rhetoric and BS. If you are going to vote you should be prepared. If English is not your prime language you have weeks to research what the ballot means.

A ballot in any language other than English should not exist. Multiple language ballots cost money! Your and my tax dollars!! Better to spend the money on education and raise the USA from it's 27th place in the world!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: je ne parle pas anglais .....

@doing research - I do not know of one non-English speaking Swedish community within the United States. Italians speak English, Gaelic-speaking Irish are few and far between here, and try as I may, there seems to be no Finnish-speaking enclaves here, either. Hmmm...is it just the non-Europeans who prefer to live in this English-speaking country and require language assistance at every turn?

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“And why other than the corruption in the voting and registration area are I.D.'s not required to vote?”

Uhh, ID’s are required. Guess you’re one of those people who “chooses” not to vote or you would know that.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: desert dweller

Excellent question! And why other than the corruption in the voting and registration area are I.D.'s not required to vote? Stand up people and demand answers..not B.S.!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Speaking English does not mean fluent, might mean broken english is spoken and read, why cry about such a trivial matter, your xenophobica is peaking out of the closet!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Doing Research

Judith, studying for and taking a multiple-choice test in another language is much easier than expecting people to know what a "water reclamation district commissioner" is in another language.

The language of the law passed in 2006 simply says that no one has a right to have federal materials printed in other languages.... it's just a nice thing to do.

Legal immigrants, refugees, wives of army guys stationed in the Philippines, people granted amnesty - and yes, undocumented immigrants that had anchor babies and are now citizens - when groups of other nationalities and ethnicities get to the U.S. they tend to cluster for cultural and emotional support. That's why you have Chinatowns or Swedish neighborhoods or a street lined with signs in Hindi. But it also slows language assimilation.

In Chicago ballots are available in Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish, and Polish.

While very few voters speak no English at all, if you're bilingual then it is much nicer to have things printed in two languages. To compare and contrast.

Though I'm sure people here will claim it's some conspiracy and the downfall of America, it actually does a lot to preserve language skills that are valuable for work. At least where I worked it did.

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