English First Amendment, Early Voting Starts Today

By Betsy Thorpe
“English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law.”
Proposition 1, English Only Amendment

“A common language unifies a people and makes a government operate more efficiently.”- Eric Crafton, District 22 Councilman, Nashville Tennessee

“Nashville is at a crucial juncture in its history. We are not yet a truly diverse city, but we are about to become one, and the real question is, Can we do it right?” -Reginald Stuart, in the book, “Nashville, an American Self-Portrait”

In spite of objections by many officials in City government and local civic organizations and religious groups, a special election on the English Only amendment to the Metro charter will take place on January 22, 2009. Early voting on the controversial referendum started today and will continue through January 17th.

By noon today 440 ballots cast by Davidson County Voters were counted. One voter, state worker Betty Hood said “I hope the referendum passes, I feel individuals should be responsible for providing their own translator when they need one, it should not be the burden of government”. Thuy Nguyen, daughter of Vietnamese immigrants stated “My parents speak and understand enough English to be independent; however, when it comes to idioms, medical and legal jargon, they need an interpreter. It takes a long time to learn a language. My parents are very grateful to the language assistance they received when they were refugees.”

The results of this special election will impact the course Nashville follows in the future and will affect how visitors perceive the city. I encourage registered voters
in Davidson County to cast their ballots at the Metro Election Commission at 700 Second Avenue South before January 17th.

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