Monday, October 06, 2008

An Election Light Bulb Goes On

I seldom post twice in one day, but I just came up with an idea I need to share. After canvassing and doing voter registration for the past 3 weeks, I think I know something that might make a real difference.

Many of the people we visited were Hispanic, Vietnamese, or Korean. Their English language ability is shaky at best. For some it will be their first election ever to vote.

Having a sample ballot and some instructions written in their languages might turn fear and frustration into a vote for Obama and the other Democratic candidates. It would require a small investment to translate the typical sample ballot into those three languages and distribute them to poll workers for use on November 4.

In a state where every vote could make a difference, we can’t afford to give up even one or to have someone vote for the other side because he didn’t understand the actual voting process.

I just called the Obama office in Fairfax and sent an e-mail to Peter Rousselot, the chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. In both cases, I offered to do any necessary legwork.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? If so, any suggestions for making it happen?


Blogger media concepts said...

That sounds like a good idea. Be assured, the Republicans are trying to do just the opposite, in order to suppress likely Democratic voting. Where they control the Governor's and Secretary of State's office, they might be successful. Remember those butterfly ballots or the thousands of people wrongfully scrubbed from the voter rolls in Florida 2000! Remember the lack of voting machines in Democratic districts in Ohio 2004!

2:28 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

That's precisely why we need to do whatever is necessary to make sure the newly registered voters get to the polls and know what do to there. The memories of those Florida and Ohio debacles are grim reminders of how things can go wrong.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It's definitely worth looking investigating. Voting can be somewhat intimidating to anyone, even if they're comfortable with the language.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

This is an excellent idea. I hope it comes to fruition. Are not the ballots already printed in Spanish, for instance? If so, there is a precedent.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin, Kate -- I'm excited that I received positive feedback from 4 different Northern Virginia jurisdictions on this. They all seem to be on their own for poll materials and procedures.

8:33 PM  
Blogger fiddler said...

We are about to elect our first Muslim American to the highest office in the land. Mr. Barry Obama has been bankrolled by some extremely wealthy Muslims whose goals are to turn America into a Muslim society. I hope you will make the connection between Obama's middle east supporters and the plight of Isreal. They are hell bent on destroying Israel and reclaiming this as their land. I can assure you that Pres. Barry Obama will have no compassion whatsoever for the Jewish community. Please do the due research that I have always known you were capable of doing.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Fiddler -- You seem to be out of tune and out of touch to me. I will take my chances with Obama any day over the other choice. You've obviously swallowed the lies the Republicans are trying to make Americans believe.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Fiddler -- You might want to take a look at this. It seems pretty convincing to me.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Barbara - you are so funny! (the fiddler is "out of tune"). The fiddler must be reading the same literature as my mother - you know, the REAL truth. I sure hope they're wrong.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- You should send your mother the link in my previous comment. It's the FACT, not hearsay. It tells the story of McCain's association with Charles Keating.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

OMG! I think someone from my message boards wandered onto your blog! LOL!

(It's so SCARY that people believe this baloney.)

Aren't ballot materials already multilingual? Here in New York voting instructions come in a bunch of different languages, from Spanish to Chinese. (Your suggestion is going to get all the English-only maniacs fired up, BTW.)

9:17 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Of the people I have talked to, no one has yet told me that the instructions come in multiple languages. It will be interesting to see what is available on election day. I live in a particularly high Hispanic area, so I hope there's at least Spanish!

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What, exactly, would those sample ballots say??

Just wondering, b/c you can't have any "advertisement" for any politician, party, or whatever w/in so many feet of the voting facility. At least, here in our state.

You said it might get some votes for Barak Hussien Obama if they were translated and distrubuted to the poll workers Nov. 4. That seems like advertising to me. That's illegal in our state. Don't know about your state. Tina

10:05 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Tina -- In front of my polling place there is always a table for Democrats and a table for Republicans. They are free to distribute sample ballots to anyone who wants one. I'm certainly not advocating that the poll workers themselves engage in partisan activity, but what goes on outside the polling place is a different story.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous ashley said...

I enjoy your blog very much, but am confused by the logic that people who don't speak English should be able to vote. In fact, how did they become citizens in the first place?

9:29 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ashley -- First of all, there is no requirement to speak English fluently to be able to vote. Those who become citizens must pass a test, which does involve answering some questions in English, but they know up front exactly what will be on the test (at least that's my understanding of the process). English proficiency comes in a variety of levels. New situations (like voting for the first time) can be intimidating, even for those of us who speak English as our native language.

1:01 PM  

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