Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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October 26th, 2012

Spanish Language Ballots a Waste of Money

In just 11 short days the voters of Sullivan County will be casting their ballot for the candidates of their choice. What many Sullivan County residents are unaware of is the costs and hard work it takes to put an election together.

Last week, I brought one of my neighbors to the Board of Elections to vote by absentee, and I could not believe all of the toomel (Yiddish for noisy chaos) going on.

As we arrived all the paper ballots were being delivered to the office. Board of Elections Commissioners Ann Prusinski and Rodney Gaebel and their entire staff were busy overseeing the delivery while answering phone calls, working computers, and helping people at the counter.

We discussed how old voting machines were easier and less costly for Sullivan County, and how Federal mandates forced the expensive new scanner voting machines and paper ballots.

The biggest latest waste of Sullivan County tax dollars is a new federal mandate requiring ballots in certain election districts be printed in Spanish. Voting machine scanners are also being programmed in Spanish.

A Spanish speaking interpreter will also be on hand at the Board of Elections to assist those in need of interpretation and explanation.

Orange County fought the same mandate in the courts but was unsuccessful. In fact, It was determined that Orange County violated the Voting Rights Act when it failed to print election ballots in Spanish and didn’t hire enough translators for polling stations.

Federal prosecutors contended that Orange County ignored “repeated requests” to accommodate Spanish-speaking voters during federal, state and local elections.

Under a settlement reached earlier this year Federal authorities will monitor elections in Orange County until January 2015.
Prusinski explained to me that the federal mandate is required where the Spanish population is at least five percent Puerto Rican in an election district. The rational for this mandate is that Puerto Rico is a United States territory whose residents are United States citizens with the right to vote.

Everyone, Puerto Ricans included, should be outraged over this mandate and waste of Sullivan County tax dollars. These types of ridiculous mandates are what lead people to become prejudice towards others.

I don’t think there is one person in Sullivan County who is of Puerto Rican descent and has not voted because they could not read the ballot.

Spanish language ballots are discriminatory towards every other ethnic voting group. What happens to the citizen who is of Asian descent and cannot read the ballot? How does that person vote? Members of the Hassidic community read, write, and speak Yiddish as a primary language, yet they vote in droves in Orange County, and all in English.

Prusinski told me more than half of the election districts in Sullivan County will receive Spanish ballots including Liberty, Fallsburgh, Monticello, Swan Lake, Livingston Manor, Wurtsboro, Bloomingburg, and White Lake.

If the Federal government wants us to enforce such a ridiculous mandate, they should reimburse us for the costs of printing the extra ballots, programming voter machines, and hiring an interpreter. If someone cannot read or write English, perhaps they just shouldn’t vote.

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