Sunday, October 9, 2016

PACHA Leader Finds Voting Age Discrepancy

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..


  1. I can remember the feeling of trepidation when I went to the poll to cast my first ballot. It was for Dwight D. Eisenhower which will give you an accurate indication of my age. In order to register there was a mini-interview during which I was required to present proof of my of my age, address, and tested to demonstrate that I could read English. I was given a card and asked to read the text. My question is that when given the ineffable privilege of the vote,in a country that notwithstanding its shortcomings is still the sought refuge of millions, is it unreasonable that a new arrival should be required to have a basic fluency as a prerequisite? The scale of democracy, theoretically, is balanced with privilege on one side of the fulcrum. and responsibility on the other. I think PACHA would better serve their constituency by teaching them the nuances of English rather than critiquing the nuances of Spanish.But then, I would not want to deprive a non-English speaking 18 year old to miss the opportunity to form an enlightened opinion have a say in our political future. Bill Kruse

    1. Having voted for Dewey which was a mistake since I think Truman because one of our greatest Presidents. I totally agree with you about the exercise of the privilege citizenship including a basic knowledge of English especially by anyone born here.


  2. Those Republicans are messing with us again !