Best advice for people planning to take up residence in a foreign country is to learn the language native to their newly adopted nation. Otherwise, expect to run into obstacles.
This same advice was, more or less, extended to Latino men and women who voluntarily decided to make Georgia — the United States — their new home in a recent court ruling.
A federal judge in Atlanta ruled in favor of the Georgia Secretary of State by dismissing a lawsuit that would have required mailing out more absentee ballot applications written in Spanish to residents in Gwinnett County. Federal law already requires the state to print election materials in English and Spanish because of the county’s huge Spanish- speaking population.
The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, joined by other groups, filed the lawsuit. It claimed the state was in violation of the Voting Rights Act by failing to send absentee ballot applications written in both languages. The judge didn’t see it that way. He noted that the very materials sought are obtainable at the county elections office.
It should be noted that this legal chase might not end with the federal court. The executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials has indicated the organization could decide to appeal the judge’s decision.
One must wonder how an individual with trouble understanding the language can even follow what candidates say they stand for, what they claim to support or oppose.
Nevertheless, it can become quite costly to begin printing every ballot or absentee ballot application in two or more languages. While it’s easy to sympathize with those who feel left out of the process, don’t. They have it within themselves to remove the language barrier preventing their participation simply by learning to read and write English. Making sure such programs are easily accessible to the Latino community would also be a boon for all.
No one strives harder for success than the Latinos who move to this state. It’s hard to imagine there are those who would let the English language stand in their way.