Foreign Languages at Polling Stations ‘Threat to Democracy’

Matthew Holehouse, Telegraph (London), April 30, 2014

The “integrity of the ballot box” is under threat because councils are allowing interpreters in polling stations, a minister has said.

Voters who do not speak English are at risk of being pressured or influenced by translators, undermining local democracy, Brandon Lewis said.

It follows allegations of “remarkable swings” to Labour in recent elections in Tower Hamlets, East London, in cases where it is claimed Bengali interpreters wrongly directed people on how to vote.

Mr Lewis, the local government minister, said council officials, the police and the public are unable to scrutinise the electoral process if officials are speaking to voters in a foreign language.

He told the Commons: “In light of previous instances of electoral fraud, including impersonation in polling stations, postal voting irregularities and allegations of improper influence, Ministers in this department have concerns about the practice of allowing foreign language translators or interpreters inside polling stations.

“The privacy of the ballot must be protected and voters inside a polling station should not be subject to any pressure or influence to vote in a particular way.

“In that context, the integrity of the ballot box and of the local democratic process requires independent and transparent scrutiny in polling stations by polling agents, council staff, the police and, indeed, passing members of the public who are also voting.

“This is undermined by polling room administration being conducted in foreign languages.”

The Electoral Commission has been urged by local Conservatives to block returning officers in Tower Hamlets from using interpreters for May’s local and European elections.

The council plans to put a Bengali speaker in every polling station in May, as Bangladeshis are the single largest ethnic group in the Borough at 32 per cent of the population.

Cllr Peter Golds, the leader of the Conservative group, claimed a council-employed translator had instructed Bengali women to support Ken Livingstone in the 2008 mayoral election and had checked ballot papers after they had voted to ensure it was “correct”.

Certain wards saw “remarkable swings” where translators were employed, Cllr Golds alleged in a letter to the Electoral Commission sent earlier this month. There is no suggestion Mr Livingstone was aware of any wrong-doing.

“The use of minority languages in polling stations prevents presiding officers and anyone else including election officials and other voters who does not speak a particular language from knowing whether the advice given is appropriate or is an attempt to influence the voter.

“It will be extremely difficult to know whether the interpreters are informing or advising the electors they are assisting,” he said.

A council spokesperson said staff working as translators may only “explain” the voting process, and are banned from highlighting any particular candidate. If explaining the content of the ballot paper they are obliged to translate the entire sheet.

Ministers have urged councils to stop translating into foreign languages because it discourages communities from learning English and is a poor use of public money.

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  • David Ashton

    The rich vibrantly multi-corrupt society.

    • Pro_Whitey

      Yeah, doesn’t everybody just think, dang, we need Bangladeshis around here. What was the slur some leftist once used about working class American whites? Poor, uneducated, and easily led. I bet that fits Bangladeshis to a T.

      • David Ashton

        Certainly less competent than north-west Pakistanis or Indian Brahmins.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      If an absence of visible evil in a society eventually results in an unhealthy “eloization” of the populace so kindly cursed, perhaps a dark enlightenment holds the potential to reverse the process eventually.

  • MekongDelta69

    Sounds just like the English version of ACORN.

  • JackKrak

    Remember how boring incredibly un-vibrant the UK was when everyone could understand the language was that used there?

  • There is no threat to democracy here.

    This is the fulfillment of democracy mashed up with racial universalism, all in the service of one major British political party’s incessant efforts to elect a new people.

  • This is typical of the kind of nonsense that occurs when non-English speaking voters are permitted to vote. I’m sure that most of them are muslim and African third-world immigrants. If so, this is one of the quickest ways to turn the formerly white country of England into a non-white, third-world welfare state!

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      I can’t imagine a worse demographic than blacks and pakis.

      • ElComadreja

        Replace the Pakis with Hispanics and you have the US.

  • TruthBeTold

    This is your classic ‘foot in the door’ issue.

    They get you to change the rules for thing and then they have precedent to get you to change ever rule.

  • frederickdixon

    Can there be any reason for people who can’t speak the country’s language being allowed to vote in its elections? None which can be justified on any rational basis, but our masters are not rational people.

    • Ike Eichenberg

      I favor literacy tests in order to vote, hell I favor limiting the vote to white male land owners, but if you cannot speak the local language well enough to get by without a terp, you have no business participating in the political process.

    • ElComadreja

      Destruction of the country is the only logical answer.

  • The Brits are strangely passive in the face of the loss of their country. The soccer hooligans waste their time fighting each other when there’s a real enemy to fight. I don’t get it.
    As to elections, they’re becoming ever more crooked and meaningless in formerly white countries. It’s a foregone conclusion that the gibsmedat blacks and browns will vote for more, more, more. What’s going to be fun to watch is how the white libtards are muscled out by the blacks and browns in the Democrat party in the US and Labour in Britain.

  • humura

    In England, require English to vote. Simple. You then eliminate most fraud.

  • IstvanIN

    In NJ a similar thing happens. The developmentally delayed, retarded, emotionally handicapped, essentially all the types who live in group homes, are registered to vote, are taken to the polls by their caretakers (overwhelmingly black) who are allowed to go into the voting booth with their charges and vote for them.

  • none of your business

    In California the Chinese transport carloads of elderly Chinese and go into the polling booth with them and make sure they mark the ballots for whatever demorat candidate is on the ballot including the blacks who the Chinese consider not completely human.

    • ElComadreja

      Ironic isn’t it? The Chinese are onto something there BTW.

  • ElComadreja

    This is no different than America.