Constitutional Clash: When English-Only Meets Voting Rights

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Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol: 28, Issue: 2, Page: 5

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Zuckerman, Michael A
article description
An ironic tension exists between politicians and an increasingly influential block of potential voters. During the 2008 election, Barack Obama and John McCain appealed to Hispanic voters by campaigning in Spanish, yet states like Iowa prevented those very same voters from registering to vote in any language other than English. This is the new American reality, where the Spanishspeaking electorate expands rapidly while calls for forced assimilation and closed borders also grow louder. One consequence of this changing reality has been the rise of English-only legislation in a number of states. One state in particular, Iowa, made national headlines last year when, in King v. Mauro, a state court interpreted its English-only statute to prevent the Iowa Secretary of State from providing non-English voter registration forms. As a result, eligible voters in Iowa who did not understand English were prevented from registering to vote in state and national elections.