Colorado: From ‘no way, Jose’ to ‘c’est la vie,’ Coffman backtracks on non-English ballots | Aurora Sentinel

Congressman Mike Coffman has backed off a controversial plan to squelch voting ballots in languages other than English. The Aurora Republican announced plans last month to introduce legislation that would repeal a provision of the 1973 Voting Rights Act mandating ballots in two languages in places where a substantial number of voting-age residents struggle with English.

“Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense whatsoever,” Coffman said in a statement announcing his plan.

But this week, Coffman issued a statement saying he abandoned the plan due to its bleak political future.

Editorials: Colorado Congressman Coffman’s attack on voting rights | The Denver Post

Rep. Mike Coffman’s intent to repeal the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act is not only ill-conceived but places the rights of millions of U.S. citizens in jeopardy.

In 1975, Congress expanded the Voting Rights Act by adding language assistance amendments. The effort was spearheaded by Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn. Congress added Sections 203 and 4(f) to provide targeted oral or written language assistance to American citizens of voting age who were not fluent in English after finding that the denial of the right to vote among limited English-proficient citizens was “directly related to the unequal educational opportunities afforded them, resulting in high illiteracy and low voting participation.” According to the 2000 Census, three-quarters of all voters covered by Section 203 were native-born, voting-age citizens.

Section 203, the part of the act that Coffman wants to remove, is based on the 14th and 15th Amendments, which guarantee “equal protection and the right to vote without regard to race, color, or previous conditions of servitude.” Consistent with our constitution, Section 203 “prohibits discriminatory practices and procedures that effectively exclude language minorities from participating in the electoral process and provides for appropriate remedies.”