Friday, October 31, 2008


[Originally posted at "Down With Absolutes" on October 31, 2008]

A few weeks ago, I received my new voter registration card from the County Board of Elections. More recently I received an official specimen ballot. Both of them were bilingual. I was tempted to write the following bilingual “Thank you” note to the Junta de Elecciones del Condado.

Estimados Señores,

Les agradezco su bondad en enviareme el modelo de papeleta electoral tanto en inglés como en español. Pero me pregunto si es necesario. Se supone que eso se envia a los que tienen derecho a votar; es decir, a los ciudadanos estadounidenses de mayor edad. Pero para ser ciudadano, uno o tiene que haber nacido aquí o tiene que solicitar para ser ciudadano. Me imagino que los que nacieron y se criaron aquí ya hablan ingles. Y los requisitos para solicitar la ciudadanía incluyen: (1) un período de residencia contínua y presencia física en los EE.UU, (2) buen character moral, (3) conocimiento de los principios de la constitución, (4) tener una opinion favorable a los EE.UU. (5) pasar un examen de ciudadanía y (6) la capacidad de leer, escribir y hablar inglés. Por lo tanto, no lo creo necesario enviar papeletas bilingủes a los ciudadanos que tienen derecho a votar.

Dear Sirs

Thank you for your kindness in sending me the specimen ballot in both English and Spanish. But I wonder if it is necessary. It is assumed that this is sent to those who have a right to vote; that is, to United States citizens of legal age. But to be a citizen one has to have either been born here or applied for citizenship. I imagine that those who were born and raised here already speak English. And the requirements for requesting citizenship include: (1) a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States, (2) good moral character, (3) knowledge of the principles of the U.S. Constitution, (4) favorable disposition towards the United States, (5) pass the United States Citizenship Test and (6) the ability to read, write and speak English. Therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to send bilingual ballots to citizens who have a right to vote.

I can already hear the howls of protest and indignation, thinking that I am a stereotypical right-wing, xenophobic, anti-Hispanic Neanderthal. So let me give you some background. I love the Hispanic language, cultures and peoples, whether they come from Mexico, Central or South America, or the Iberian peninsula of old Spain. I am privileged to count a number of Hispanics as dear and respected friends. Let me tell you something else that will shock you. I really believe we should loosen our immigration laws, and I did not have too much of a problem with the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill that was defeated last year. I sincerely believe we should make it easier for people to legally come to the US and pursue the American dream, as long as we know who they are and that they do not intend us any harm. And I also believe we need to come up with a sensible and compassionate way to deal with the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the US. Let’s even let them stay here, as long as they raise their hands and say who they are. As a fiscal conservative, I would love for them to have a legal social security card and work permit and be able to legitimately pay taxes.

However, having said all that, I am still one of those old fashioned folks who still believe in the quaint notion that the right to vote should be reserved for US citizens. And I am very much concerned that some of the ludicrous loosening of the election laws in the past decade has facilitated voter fraud, to include voting by non-citizens. Case in point is the infamous “motor-voter” law that allows you to register to vote when you get your driver’s license. How many non-citizens (even legal residents) have drivers licenses? What is to stop them from registering to vote?

Leaving aside the specific concern over citizenship, does it make sense to allow people to register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day? Does it make sense to allow internet voting? If the right to vote is so precious and sacred, is it too much to ask for people to actually show up at the polls on Election Day with a voter registration card and a picture ID?

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