Bilingual Ballots a Bad Idea [PHIL-OSOPHY]
Nellie Gorbea, the Rhode Island Secretary of State, just announced bilingual voting ballots and materials will now be available in Woonsocket for the November 6 general election.
Spanish and English ballots are already being used in nearby Pawtucket, Central Falls and Providence. Parts of Boston use bilingual ballots based on the concentration of ethnicity.
Do you think bilingual ballots build up the political conversation of a local community? To me, it flies in the face of what being an American citizen is all about!
I question the logic of offering voters bilingual ballots when it is a requirement of all naturalized U.S. citizens to be proficient in writing and speaking English. Not just for some, but this applies to all naturalized citizens. There are some grandfather clause exemptions, but If someone needs a bilingual ballot, it makes a mockery of the rule of law. The language requirement for new citizens says applicants must be able to read, write, speak and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.
The added costs associated with bilingual ballots and materials pale to the fact that bilingual ballots balkanize our nation. Our national motto is "E pluribus unum," which means "out of many, one." While we come from everyplace on the globe, we are united as Americans. This unity means we must celebrate our cultural bonds from all over the Earth with the ability to communicate with one another through a common language: English.
What used to be a melting pot has turned into a salad bowl society. There is no better time than now to think twice about how bilingual ballots can hold people back from assimilating, and keep them in their section of town.
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Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.