The Founding Fathers who crafted the U.S. Constitution intentionally left voting qualifications to the states, which in turn linked voting rights to U.S. citizenship.
Over the years, Constitutional amendments have clarified voting rights: the 14th Amendment granted U.S. citizenship to former slaves; the 15th Amendment addressed voting by racial minorities; the 19th Amendment granted voting rights to women; and the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18.
As part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) that requires assistance in voting for “language-impaired” minorities. Subsequent Congresses have tweaked the VRA to promote “fairness” for racial minorities, including those unqualified to vote.
Back in 1965, voting by illegal immigrants was not a significant issue in the United States, but the VRA has since created chaos and ongoing litigation among federal, state, county, and local jurisdictions, as increasing numbers of unqualified persons are encouraged to vote.
The most significant sections of the frequently amended Voting Rights Act provide that voter registration and voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, and materials of information on the electoral process — including ballots — be issued in a language of the applicable minority who may be English-deficient or illiterate.
Many VRA amendments actually make no statutory reference to the citizenship of those receiving voting assistance. The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) rigorously enforces the VRA and its amendments with the implication being that no questions regarding citizenship will be tolerated.
The technical terms of the Voting Rights Act and its amendments refer to “covered” jurisdictions. Such jurisdictions occur when the U.S. Census determines that a single-language group exceeds 10,000 persons, or that such a group is 5 percent of all voting-age citizens, or that the illiteracy rate of such a group is higher than the national illiteracy rate.
Congress after Congress, however, has failed to acknowledge that the Census Bureau’s numbers are highly questionable, especially in identifying persons with language and literacy deficiencies.
A DOJ announcement of Oct. 12, 2011, stated that 248 “jurisdictions” must comply with the language-assistance sections of the Voting Rights Act. Based on 2010 Census reports, 39 states are covered by these sections, with compliance requirements covering 30.7 to 33.8 percent of the U.S. voting age population.
The accuracy of the methodology used by the Census Bureau in determining the number of households where English is not spoken with proficiency or where illiteracy is above the national average tend to be suspect. Past inaccuracies of census data are well-documented. The Census Bureau regularly recalculates its numbers, especially when mayors or governors complain of undercounts that impact their receipt of federal funds.
Census-takers are frequently temporary hires, who are asked to determine the English proficiency or illiteracy of entire households. What criteria do they use and what experience do they have? The Census Bureau reports the use of a complicated formula based on its American Community Survey unit and census data that factors in the number of “limited-English proficient” voting-age residents and their educational levels. Bureaucratic control reigns, as the following examples attest.
- Fairfax County, Va., a densely populated suburb of Washington, D.C., is striving to meet new federal requirements to provide assistance for English-deficient Hispanic voters. Taxpayers of Fairfax County and the entire state of Virginia must pick up the costs for translations of voting materials, interpreters at the polls, and language-friendly ballots. This unfunded mandate is a cost burden on the locales and states “covered” by the Voting Rights Act and its amendments.
- The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was unable to estimate the costs of complying with the Voting Rights Act and Obama administration enforcement regulations, as of Oct. 13, 2011. The newspaper quoted the city election chief as saying there were “no estimates on cost to comply with a federal order to provide ballots and voting information in Spanish.” He added, though, that the federal order could be “very costly.”
Comments by Milwaukee residents about the piece were 9-to-1 opposed to the expenditures, many making reference to the naturalization process that requires immigrants to read, speak, and understand English. Many residents complained that illegal aliens are in fact voting, and that is the reason for the costly translation of ballots and voting materials
The Obama administration artfully avoids commenting on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act or on its monetary costs to locales and states, let alone on its corrupting nature. Was the act and its amendments ever necessary? According to the Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, citizenship requirements dictate that all applicants for citizenship must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English words in ordinary use.
In addition, applicants must have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. Citizenship and the related right to vote remain privileges to be preserved, not corrupted.
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