Mike Coffman, repeat Shmuck, wants to make it harder for Spanish speakers to vote

mike coffman small photo cropped.JPG
Mike Coffman.
U.S. Representative Mike Coffman is no stranger to voter suppression. In fact, the 6th District Republican lawmaker has a long history of tinkering with elections.

His latest campaign would make it more difficult for people who don't speak English well to vote across the country. In Colorado, that mostly means Spanish speakers -- Spanish speakers who are U.S. citizens, by the way.

The right to vote, of course, is one of the most precious, fundamental rights that Americans have, one that certain groups of people -- blacks, women -- had to fight for decades to achieve, and one that immigrants line up at our borders to gain.

Here are the specifics: Coffman plans to introduce a bill that would repeal a portion of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. Implemented in 1975, this portion requires counties and other jurisdictions with large groups of non-proficient English speakers to print dual-language ballots so that those people can better understand them. You'll remember that the point of the Voting Rights Act was to keep states -- and lawmakers -- from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."

Why did it have to be put into effect? Because racist and manipulative politics have been around for a long time -- and apparently they still are.

Coffman, a previous Westword Shmuck of the Week in 2008 and 2010, has called the requirement an unfunded federal mandate that counties have to pay for on their own. In Colorado, ten counties currently print bilingual ballots, while another sixteen may have to do the same thing for the 2012 elections.

But is it really about money? Of course not. In 2008, when he was still Colorado Secretary of State, Coffman had to be ordered by a judge to stop deleting names from Colorado's voting rolls, and he would gladly keep Spanish speakers -- who, again, are U.S. citizens -- from voting as well, especially since they tend to lean Democratic.

Is it unfunded federal mandate? No. If you live in a county where it snows a lot, the county government plows the roads. If you live in a county with a lot of crime, the government hires more police officers. And if you live in a county where a lot of citizens speak another language, you print ballots in that language.

Elected officials are supposed to represent their constituents, to respond to their needs and to allocate funding in a way that serves those people.

Coffman plans to do the opposite.

Which part of the Voting Rights Act will he go after next?

More from our Shmuck archive: "William Loomis, our shmuck of the week, would like you to get a job."

My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
nosaterra.cfl
nosaterra.cfl

As an outsider from England, plus a fluent Spanish-speaker, I believe that there is a treaty signed by the U.S. when the former Mexican states were absorbed into the union declaring that Spanish shall be retained as a language since the original settlers were Hispanophones. Furthermore, Spanish in fact pre-dates English and French as the colonial language of the Americas, so many Spanish-speakers are simply descendants of them. In Britain, we have 3 languages, English, Welsh and Scots Gaelic and we live in harmony so embrace diversity. Most countries in the world are not monolingual..

James Bowen
James Bowen

Republicans nationwide are trying to make it more difficult to vote for all communities that have traditionally supported Democrats. Coffman is one of many who have been at this for many years.

Dorg38
Dorg38

Move to Mexico and become a citizen and complain to the Mexican government that your ballot is not in English! See how far that gets you. Jonathan you seem to have no problem seeing that money is spent on the ballots. Why don't you put up the money for that instead of forcing me to pay for it? Something as fundamental as voting is the citizens responsibility not the governments or yours! Do you need the government to help you vote? I think not, but you "feel" that the government should "help" those that don't CARE to vote, to vote. Stay out of other people lives, it doesn't hurt me if ignorant people don't vote, but you seem to think that having ignorant people on your side helps! Now I know where you sit and you know where I stand. I feel better knowing that people are willing to do what is right with out a crutch of the government to show them "the way".

Marc
Marc

Jonathan, you're saying that WE Americans need to cater to people who don't speak the language of the country they chose to come to? You're worse than Coffman. It's real simple: You wanna come the States? Fine. Learn the language. Period. Plain and simple. Why don't we hand immigrants FREE english courses rather than a free ticket to make things difficult for natives of our country?

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

well technically since the seventh rule for citizenship/naturalization states you must read write and understand english as well as have a decent understanding of our gov and civics to become a citizen and to be able to vote, then section 9 of the NVRA states they must meet and pass all the requirements for citizenship to be able to vote, i think he is just trying to get this fukd up country and gov to follow their own laws they made! THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE THESE ARE SIMPLE FACTS THAT THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMITTEE IS LOOKING INTO SO ARE WE GOING TO TRASH THE FEC WHEN THEY ENFORCE THE WRITTEN LAWS?

David11Tanner
David11Tanner

Here's the simple solution to thisproblem... and it doesn't cost a dime:

Since most people are voting via mail, have the one and only ballot -- printedin English -- mailed to a voter's home. If the voter's inability to understandEnglish is that impaired, then he gets a friend, relative, someone from hishouse of worship, AARP, LaRaza, LULAC, or whatever to help translate. This iswhat communities and neighborhoods do. We don't demand the government spendmore of our tax dollars on ballots in a variety of languages.

I used to have to help my elderly mother with her ballot, during the last fewyears of her life, even though she was a native English speaker. We didn'tdemand the government provide a large print ballot, or audio, ballot for her!

If the English language challenged voter is one of the few, who still casts aballot at a polling place, then they can bring someone along to assist them.That is already permitted by current law.

 

It's a "win-win"situation! No one is denied access to voting, the voter gets help understandingthe ballot, and there are no tax dollars being spent.

 

Election Day does not sneak up onanyone.  It is the responsibility ofevery voter to prepare himself/herself to cast his/her ballot by that time.  This is not rocket science and should notrequire the certain counties to spend limited tax money to print multi-languageballots.

By the way, when one initially registersto vote, aren’t the necessary forms in English?  

 

Eric
Eric

The idea that a citizen of the United States doesn't speak English may seem preposterous, but it simply isn't.

There are several scenarios in which a citizen of this great land might not know the language, not the least of which includes a child born here to immigrants and never speaking the English language at home 'till 18. Not all schools are multi lingual, thus exacerbating the situation, possibly intimidating the child into not attending. While most of us can't even imagine such hardships, they exist and are truly the obstacles many of our people, citizens of the U.S. must navigate through.

Truth is, political conservatives definitely gain advantage when the voter roles decrease, and they are at a disadvantage when the voter roles increase. Coffman is another highly partisan republican politician, as well documented in this piece. As SOS he was guilty in massive voter suppression attempts, as Alan Prendergast duly reported in'08. The mere idea he'd be involved in attempted repeal of the landmark  1965 Voters Rights Act simply fits his agenda to a "t".

There is anger over immigration, both legal and not. American jobs are scarce, especially well paying jobs, benefits, etc. Fair enough.

But the unvarnished truth is that since ronni reagan, 45,000 factories have off shored. Millions of American jobs have been outsourced by corporations, and the republican party has led the headlong charge to literally reward millionaires that move overseas with massive tax breaks.

Unfortunately, most ordinary conservatives, the "Jo sixpacks" Sarah plain waxes about, don't bother to research why the economy's gone to hell. They just parrot the fox news talking points about how "them illegals stole our jobs".

And these conservatives, these nitwit goobers, keep voting against their families' and their own best interests.

Guest
Guest

I see no problem making it a requirement to speak english to vote, and be here in the untied states.  Since when is it ok for a newcomer so be so damn lazy they will not learn the langauge of their new homeland.  Are they to stupid to learn english, does it take too much of their time?  What exactly is the problem? 

Is it inconvenient for immigrants to assimilate themselves to their new home? 

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@nosaterra.cfl Far too many Americans are monolingual -- which may explain why there's so much debate over other languages in this country. Thanks for the post, nosaterra.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Maybe that's why he's a multiple Shmuck of the Week. Thanks for weighing in, James.

TranslateThis
TranslateThis

So essentially you're saying the government should force people to learn English.

I know people who were born here (and thus are citizens), and they speak English, but they cannot read and write English.  (Yay public schools!)

Pay them back all of their tax money, and maybe they'll let you take away their birthright to be an informed voter.

Eric
Eric

 Nope,

We're talking about CITIZENS of the USA.

Nobody said anything about giving illigal immigrants the right to vote.

Next time you post, know what you're talking about.

Eric
Eric

Nope,

If you're born here, you're a citizen.

Period.

No matter how much you may dislike it.

It's what makes this nation the greatest on earth.

The door didn't shut behind your relatives when they arrived.

Technically you're wrong. 

very impressed
very impressed

Where is the "dislike" button? Maybe the whole world should speak english, I really hate subtitles!

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

it is not a requirement it is a law upheld by two departments and two different codes for the usa

The Gregonator!!!
The Gregonator!!!

*"Are they TOO stupid to learn English."  Clearly, someone is...

Stupid is as stupid writes.
Stupid is as stupid writes.

Many Americans are too stupid to be able to learn proper English.  As a highly-relevant example, I'd like to point out that you referred to this country as the "untied states," rather than the United States.  Why are they untied?  Also, your capitalization and punctuation need some work.  I know immigrants who have better English skills than you do, son!  I have this to say to you:  DUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHH!

Linguist
Linguist

...easy for YOU to say.

Anmsaw
Anmsaw

Obviously his english is impeccable... I don't want to come the states. Ouch.

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

commie is not a proper noun it is slang and should not be.

Eric
Eric

Good one!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...