Jefferson's democracy

Franklin Jefferson's thoughts on the world

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Voting rights renewal

Here's some rather biased coverage:
"Southern lawmakers delay voting rights bill"
GOP Halts Extension of Voting Rights Act,0,1505421.story?coll=la-story-footer

The headlines make it sound like those ol' racist southern congressmen are trying to kill the 1965 Voting rights act... read the details, though, and you see that they are objecting to the requirement for Spanish language ballots, and the federally-mandated oversight of some voting districts that used to be discriminating, before 1965. Nobody is objecting to the voting rights act itself, which says that Americans should be allowed to vote regardless of race, creed, or color. This is a manufactured issue.

The objections are perfectly reasonable. If the law says that districts that discriminated fifty years ago still need "temporary" federally-mandated oversight, it's pretty clear that the answer to the question "how long is 'temporary'?" is "forever."

And the multi-lingual ballot part wasn't even part of the 1965 act-- it was added later. It is completely ridiculous that the Federal government should mandate Spanish as the second language for elections. What about immigrants from Haiti, shouldn't they have ballots in French? How about Vietnamese immigrants? Ukranians? What about ballots in Swahili? How about Esperanto, or Klingon?

People who want to vote should know at least enough English to complete a ballot.