Colorado congressman wants ballots exclusively in English
DENVER (AP) – Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is introducing legislation to repeal portions of the 1973 Voting Rights Act so that county clerks would be required to provide ballots and other election materials only in English.
Clerks in 16 Colorado counties are awaiting a Justice Department decision as to whether they must print dual-language ballots this year. They say the cost would be significant.
Eight counties already must provide ballots in Spanish as well as English. Two counties must provide interpreters for Ute tribal members in southwest Colorado.
Coffman says forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense. He notes English proficiency is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship.
According to The Denver Post, immigrant-rights advocates see Coffman’s proposal as an attempt to disenfranchise eligible voters.
“We are talking about U.S. citizens, whether they were born here or not,” said Elena Nunez, program director with Colorado Common Cause.
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler is neutral on Coffman’s proposal, said spokesman Andrew Cole.
“We are focused on complying with the law,” Cole said. “Congressman Coffman obviously is a lawmaker, and if he wants to change the law, we will comply with the new law.”
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