Thursday, May 1, 2014

I thought it was illegal anyway

Seems moves are afoot to attempt to block interpreters from being placed in polling stations because there are indications that they have been abusing their position in not just telling people who can't speak English how to vote, but who to vote for.
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.
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.
Why am I not surprised by the fact that it was Labour who benefited?
I was under the impression (apparently wrongly) that the only people allowed in a polling station were the presiding officers and police and that no one else including party workers were allowed. So having an interpreter available seems like a breach of the law anyway, particularly in the light of quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who guards the guardians) when the presiding officers and the police have no idea what is being said to the voter.
Like the millions spent wasted on foreign language translation in this country, this is a practice that need to be stopped, if you don't know enough of the language to be able to interpret how to vote that's your lookout and there ought to be no one available save those who are legally obliged to be there in a polling station. After all, there's the suspicion that if you can't interpret the polling form, you won't know who your candidates were anyway.
As English is the recognised language of this country, then it should be the only language permitted on official forms and for official business. You want to speak Urdu or Gujarati in your own home, fine, but when dealing with the rest of the country you speak the language that the country speaks.
Otherwise there is the suspicion that by pandering to your laziness, the above happens.

3 annotations:

Kath lissenden said...

I was going to comment that my suspicion, as I first started reading is this would only happen in Labour controlled areas.
But as the Telegraph specifically mentions Ken livingstone that would point to my supposition being in some way actuate.
Although to be honest nothing these charlatans do these days in the name of winning a vote surprises me any more.

JuliaM said...

The more I read stories like this, the more I think we are doomed as a country.

StourbridgeRantBoy said...

If they ca'nt understand the native tongue then no vote. If they are unwilling to learn then fuck them off....When in Rome.

Laurie -