As the deadline approaches to register to vote in the Nov. 8 general election, teenagers need to watch out for an apparent discrepancy between registration forms in English and Spanish.
At a Sept. 27 voter registration event, Flor Gonzales of the Plainfield Advisory Committee on Hispanic Affairs showed me the two forms and pointed out a section on eligibility based on age.
The English version asks, "Will you be 18 years of age by the next election?" and if the answer is "No," the teen is advised not to fill out the form. However, a person who will be 18 by Nov. 8 may register by the final filing date of Oct. 18. Gonzales pointed out that the Spanish-language form asks whether the applicant is at least 17 years old.("Tiene 17 anos de edad como minimo?" If the answer is "No," the applicant is told not to fill out the form.
The issue is that a teenager may be 17, but not 18 by Nov. 8. It is spelled out on the website for the New Jersey Division of Elections under the heading Voter Registration & Voting.
It is also spelled out lower down on the Spanish registration form in a box labeled "Declaracion."
Gonzales wants to make sure teenagers are aware of the difference. In effect, it will only matter to those turning 18 by Nov. 8, but every vote is especially important in a presidential election. Anyone helping Spanish-speaking teenagers to register should point out the fine print in the box numbered 11 on the registration form..