- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Budget deal to get quick vote in the House
Election edict tests Fairfax
Federal law requires help in Spanish for Hispanic voters
Fairfax County is the only county in Virginia history with a federal mandate to provide language assistance to English-deficient Hispanic voters in a presidential election — a development delighting activists, straining election officials and worrying those who argue that voters should know English well enough to participate without help.
The Old Dominion’s most populous jurisdiction and a critical battleground in a must-have state in the presidential race, last year was required to give the assistance under a section of the Voting Rights Act. The law applies to about 250 jurisdictions across the country.
The October 2011 announcement didn’t leave much time to gird for state and local races a month later, but the county prepared furiously — and continues to do so, registrar Cameron Quinn says.
“People who are illiterate in English and bilingual are sometimes illiterate in Spanish,” she said. “In a sense, we’re messaging to people who aren’t going to be picking up messages, literally. Last year, our only option was to create Spanish-language equivalent [signs] and put them up.”
She estimated that the federal mandate has cost $75,000 to $125,000, factoring in items such as staff time and copying costs for Spanish signs.
The U.S. Census Bureau uses a complicated formula to determine when a county needs to provide language assistance to voters based on American Community Survey and census data that takes into account the number of “limited-English proficient” voting-age residents, then factors in education levels.
There are about 19.2 million voting-age citizens covered under the provision — a 43 percent increase from 10 years ago.
“The fact that we are requiring ballots to be printed in languages other than English when, if you have to become citizens, you have to learn English … it’s definitely a disconnect,” he said. “I just think it’s sort of a misguided approach. In reality, it’s discouraging the assimilation our country needs.”
Mr. Vandervoort added there’s a concern the effort also could be intended to allow noncitizens to vote.
“[T]he reality is there is no example I have seen that people have shown me where there is a serious issue of voter fraud,” he said. “If it’s out there, I want to see it.”
The state has a new voter-identification law intended to prevent voter fraud. Under the law, which took effect July 1, voters must provide identification at the polls or their ballots will be counted provisionally. Previously, they could simply sign a sworn affidavit affirming their identity. The law also expands the forms of identification voters can use to prove their identity to include student ID cards, bank statements and utility bills.
When Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, signed the law, he also issued an executive directive to the State Board of Elections requiring it to mail new voter registration cards to every active registered voter in the state.
Ms. Quinn said her office works with the county’s public affairs shop to develop new press contacts, and she has noticed an uptick in inquiries when Spanish-language television stations run election stories on the state’s new voter-ID law.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Despite questions, Senate panel backs top Homeland nominee
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Senate approves 10-year extension of ban on plastic guns
- Israel's Netanyahu still wary of West's deal with Iran
- Former Reagan aide James Baker: President regretted apartheid veto
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Leon Panetta named as source of 'Zero Dark Thirty' scriptwriters information
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Robert Griffin III surprised at being benched by Mike Shanahan
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Uncensored exploration of issues concerning current events, civil liberties, American political advocacy, and the political and social issues facing military veterans.
An objective, analysis-based perspective of D.C. sports as seen through the eyes of lifelong D.C. sports enthusiast, John Heibel.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow