But the greater danger is that unscrupulous groups sometimes use these materials to facilitate voting by non-citizens. As I have testified, multiple instances of voter fraud have involved non-citizens voting -- by using bilingual ballots -- from Hawaii to Georgia.
So what can be done? The best thing would be to repeal the onerous provision -- but not even a Republican-controlled Congress has been willing to take on that fight. Short of repeal, the very least that should be done is stopping the Census Bureau from inflating the number of jurisdictions required to provide bilingual materials based on phony limited-English-proficient numbers.
The current chairmen of the House subcommittees charged with overseeing enforcement of the Voting Rights Act's bilingual provisions have asked the assistant attorney general for civil rights and the head of the bureau to abandon the flawed methodology now being used. In a letter this week, Reps. Trent Franks and Trey Gowdy urged the bureau to adopt the common-sense approach of considering anyone who says they speak English "well" on the Census form as English-proficient.
At least this standard would result in fewer unnecessary bilingual ballots from being printed. But the only way to stop this nonsense is to eliminate the requirement for bilingual voting materials altogether. Furthermore, there is another reason to oppose them: they balkanize our nation.
Our original national motto is "E pluribus unum" -- out of many, one. While we come from all over the globe, we are united as Americans. This unity means that we hold certain things in common. We celebrate the same democratic values, cherish our many freedoms, and champion equality under the law. Our common bonds must also include an ability to communicate with one another through a common language: English.
In our struggling economy, there is no better time than now than to stop wasting money on bilingual ballots.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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