Only in America: Election Day Absurdity
Like they’ve done numerous times before, Karen and her husband show up together at their polling place (where they’ve been voting for decades). The voting official checks them in and then announces loudly throughout the room, “We’ve got a Repub and a Green!” Amazing, isn’t it – Greens and Repubs can cohabitate, though frankly, I don’t think Karen’s husband is a true Republican – but I digress – the point here is – WTF is the official doing yelling out political affiliations?
But this, it turns out, is the minor transgression.
Wait for it.
Here it comes – the MAJOR transgression:
They have no more Green voting ballots in English.
They offer Karen one in Spanish.
“Do you have one in Italian?” her husband (who surely must have had a twinkle in his eye and a wry look on his face) asks. “She speaks Italian.” Yes, Karen does speak Italian – it’s her second language – she’s been studying it for several years.
Of course they don’t have Green ballots in Italian. They only have ‘em in Spanish – they’ve run out of ‘em in English, even though in our county, the Green party is dominated by Caucasians – native English-speakers most of ‘em. I’m not aware that the Spanish-speaking community registers Green in a big way in any part of the country.
Having no other immediate option, Karen votes with the Spanish ballot (at least it wasn’t Chinese, she tells me). Now Karen is the type of person who knows her vote before she enters the polling place, but what if she wasn’t sure? What if she needed to reread the material on the ballot again? And then, as Karen reminds me, there’s the county supervisors section – where you can pick seven. What if you don’t know the word “seven” in Spanish? If you mark nine, is your ballot invalid? Fortunately, Karen knows the word “siente.”
Now Karen, as she says, isn’t a “Lou Dobbs-wall-up-the-border-and-round-‘em-all-up and-send-‘em-all-back” kind of gal. She’s a Green, and in some regards though not all, more liberal than I – but this was too much. Her polling place was not able to offer a Green ballot in English to a native-born citizen of the U.S.of A whose first language is English. She was stunned. I am stunned. Are you stunned?
When she finished voting in Spanish, the polling officials offered her the little sticker which reads, “I Voted” in two different languages: English and Spanish. She declined.
She’s reporting this oddity (and let’s hope it’s a rare one) to the County Election Committee and I suggested she let the Green Party know as well. I’ve been reading too many conspiracy theories of late – but what a great way to limit the Green vote even more – by producing more Spanish than English Green ballots.
I don’t have a problem with a multi-lingual ballot – but when a native, English-speaking citizen can’t get a ballot in English – now that’s an absurdity that can happen only in America.
I know the far-right conservatives will come out in droves and say – serves you liberals right – but I don’t think this is a problem created by liberals or liberal thinking. And I don’t think putting a bill through the House and Senate that makes English the official language is the answer to this problem. I’m not sure why this problem exists. But I think we need to find out.