One day I was reading about the naturalization requirements for becoming an American citizen. One of the requirements is, “Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).”
Then the following question dawned on me – if naturalized citizens must be English speaking, why is it that some election ballots are required to be multi-lingual?
My guess – the Supreme Court – turned out to be wrong. Instead this new example of government stupidity comes from the Voting Rights Act. According to a Department of Justice website, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act in 1975 by adding Section 203, to require as follows:
- “The law covers those localities where there are more than 10,000 or over 5 percent of the total voting age citizens in a single political subdivision who are members of a single minority language group, have depressed literacy rates, and do not speak English very well.”
- “Determinations are based on data from the most recent Census, and the determinations are made by the Director of the Census.”
The problem with this formulation is that the first dot point refers to “citizens” while the second dot point refers to census data, which scrupulously avoids any citizenship-based data because it doesn’t want to scare off illegal immigrants. That scruple results in notorious redistricting based on number of residents instead of number of citizens. Based on section 203, it also results in Spanish ballots for residents who have no right to vote.
Only in America.