Language in America - Bilingual Ballots


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Bilingual Ballots
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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. Source: testimony of Frances Fairey, Yuba County Clerk/Recorder, before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, April 18, 1996.

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.

Percent Citizens Reported Registered
  1,990 1,986 1,982 1,978
White 67 68 67.9 65.8
Black 60.9 65.9 61.1 58.8
Hispanic 51.9 54 51.7 48
Percent Citizens Reported Voting
  1,990 1,986 1,982 1,978
White 49 49 51.6 48.8
Black 40.6 44.6 44.4 38.2
Hispanic 33.8 36.4 37.1 34.3

Source: Id.

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.

Excerpt From "Vote Fraud," Campaigns & Elections, June 1996:

"A single precinct in San Diego County was found to have 30 verifiable legal aliens out of just 313 registered voters. Illegal immigrants voted in Fresno and Tulare County in November 1994; and a prominent legal alien – a Mexican businessman and a publisher of a Spanish language newspaper – cast a ballot in both 1992 and 1994, despite his lack of American citizenship.

"Even Mario Aburto Martinez, the Mexican citizen who assassinated the ruling party’s 1994 presential nominee Luis Donaldo Colosio in Tijuana, was a registered voter in San Pedro[, California]."

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