I was listening to the radio earlier this week and I heard a very interesting proposition being tossed around in the Seattle legislature (or was it the state legislature?). In any case, some folks are advocating the use of multiple languages for ballots on elections and propositions, and the radio commentator made a good point: in order to attain citizenship in the USA, one must command a proficient enough English in order to do basic reading comprehension and writing tasks. Isn’t it then contradictory to have official ballots written in other languages, for isn’t it presupposed that those voting are at least proficient in English?
Good (and bad) points were made for each side by random callers, but I want to know what you guys (who strike me as somewhat more intelligent than the a-ve-rage bear) think.
There’s a difference between being able to do “basic reading comprehension and writing tasks” and being proficient enough to fully understand the rather more complex language that appears on voting ballots and other legal documents. When an area has a substantial population of people whose native language is one other than English, it just seems petty to force those people to risk accidentally spoiling their ballot, or (in referenda) voting the wrong way, rather than simply providing a translation into that language.
And if anybody is going to name cost as a reason not to print ballots in Chinese or Spanish, please supply a cite showing that there is in fact a significant cost involved.
Just noticed this was a duplicate - I’m going to repost it in the other one, before the mods delete this.
This topic was accidentally started more than once, so I’ll close this copy and direct further comment to another, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=132237