Enthusiasm for bilingual ballots in Hall County has not gone unnoticed. The news has spread throughout many forums in Hall County for our Latino citizens. Excitement has resonated from not only the Latino community, but also from people who wish to have a more inclusive society here in Hall County. The bilingual ballot decision has been validation to our citizens who are not entirely fluent in reading and speaking English that their voice matters.
Most Latinos who migrate to the U.S for a better quality of life for themselves and their families may know little to no English when they cross the border. While the citizenship application process often requires basic comprehension of the English language, they may not fully comprehend a ballot measure in their second language. Empathy is important; learning a new language past your teens is extremely difficult. It can take more then a few years to just be able to hold a basic conversation with a native English speaker
Residents I have spoken to have reacted with optimism that this will bring unity to the different nationalities in the Latino community at large by working together toward a common goal of representation through civic action. The response from citizens who are still impacted by these limitations of language has been relief and reassurance. For some, language has been the key barrier for participatory civic action.
The participation of Latinos in Hall County is valued. Latinos are the proud backbone of Gainesville’s labor force, and this decision is a major step to build up and strengthen our city from its very foundation. Democracy is the ballot and we should not tolerate exclusion by limiting ballots to one language. Hall County is the first county to choose this as an option, and our leadership,initiative and Latino community must be a point of pride for all the residents that call Hall County home.