Just over a year from now America will cast ballots in the 2012 election. The Presidency is up for grabs, as is the entire House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate. Based on predictions from the pundits, voter turnout is expected to be strong. And, as we get closer to the Nov. 6, 2012, you can expect the contentious debate about standardizing the language of the ballots to resurface.
Some have suggested that printing the ballots in English-only is a great idea, but what about the tens of millions of people for whom English is a second language? Should the non-English speaking public be expected to learn the un-official language of the land in order to vote?
Or, is it appropriate for all eligible and registered voters to expect that the government will provide election support in whatever language they desire?
And what about the questions about drivers licenses and English?
As it concerns the privilege of driving a car in America, the question of English proficiency is also popping up again. Currently, nine states offer motor vehicle certification in English only (Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, & Wyoming…) That number is up from just five in 2005.
Of the 41 multi-lingual, driving-test states, most offer just English and Spanish, however some offer the test in a host of languages. The New York DMV website lists 13 languages available in printed forms. In California, you can take the written license test in more than 30 different languages.
Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Rumanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, Vietnamese.
A curious fact – California offers printed tests in more than 32 languages, and yet all of the street signs are printed in only one language – English.
Where do you stand on the questions about requiring proficiency in English in order to vote and drive?