Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Progressive Party Demands ENGLISH Ballots

A political party that favors making Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state said Tuesday it will demand an English translation of a November ballot.

A Spanish-only ballot discriminates against 14 percent of 4 million islanders whose first language is English, said Edwin Mundo, an official with the New Progressive Party. A translation of the ballots is expected to help the party's results.

He said the party will file a lawsuit in federal court by next Monday, seeking to overturn a recent decision in which a judge rejected a similar request. Mundo maintains that the federal Help America Vote Act applies to Puerto Rico.

But the president of the island's elections commission ruled last month that the act does not apply in Puerto Rico because it is not a U.S. state or political subdivision. The president also ruled that the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 does not apply for the same reasons.

There's additional twist that if HR 900 clears Congress in time, there could be a vote on statehood. If there's just enough people that wouldn't voted before because of the language issue that would after the ballots have been changed, then there may just be enough people to guarantee the island vote for statehood.

How off am I in that guess, folks?

PS: I wish I could type. Really.


Randy McDonald said...

Couldn't that go both ways? You might get a lot of first-language speakers of English voting for statehood, but you might also get a lot of Spanish-speaking voting against said status.

Will Baird said...

Well, my tea leaf reading skills are suspect, but I think the ballots have always been in Spanish. The voting blocks there are largely set, if I am not mistaken, with some long term shifts over time to statehood at the expense of independence and some to the commonwealth crowd.

It's possible that there might be a backlash, but 14%? hmm.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, Will, have you been to Puerto Rico?

(Randy, go to Puerto Rico! It's a very civilized intro to Latin America.)

Anyways, y'all making a seriously rookie mistake by assuming that support for statehood will cut across language lines.

I sigh, feeling like Bolivar, for I have ploughed the sea. Ni modo.

Will Baird said...

I haven't been yet, Noel. I am thinking next year. I have an uncle that lived there for, I think, five years. He's a pharmaceutical chemist that does major work in the biotech industry. I am hoping to go next year to PR. It will depend on a lot though, like if we pull off this LLC thing or not.

As for the N00b mistake...well, possibly that is the case, but why, then, is the New Progressive Party pushing for it? To appeal to the mainlander politics?

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't they support it? It's not going to annoy any of their supporters, and it might marginally increase English-speaking turnout in local elections. Since the NPP is the "conservative" party, English-speakers (who tend to be wealthier) are more likely to support them.

Which is why English-speakers support Commonwealth because Commonwealth is better for richer people. Plus selection bias: Americans who move to P.R. are going to be less likely than average to be bothered by P.R.'s political status.

A useful analogy to the status debate in Puerto Rico is abortion politics on the mainland. It colors politics, but it's really off the table, and it's rarely a driver of anything.