Make election ballots English-only, Arizona GOP candidate says, igniting debate

Election ballots should be printed in English only, a Republican running to be Arizona's next secretary of state said last weekend in a comment that drew pushback from both sides of the aisle. 

Candidate Steve Gaynor's remarks came during a GOP candidate forum in Wickenburg last Saturday, the Arizona Republic reported

"My printing plant in L.A. printed an information pamphlet not too long ago. It had 18 languages on it," Gaynor, the owner of a printing business in Southern California, said, according to the paper. "I would be the first to say it should be -- ballots, information pamphlets, all the material in our country -- should be in English."

"My printing plant in L.A. printed an information pamphlet not too long ago. It had 18 languages on it."

- Steve Gaynor, GOP candidate for Arizona secretary of state

Many in the crowd booed, the report said. 

Incumbent Secretary of State Michele Reagan, who is among Gaynor's opponents in the state's GOP primary Aug. 28, accused Gaynor of "pandering" to far right-wing groups, the Republic reported. 

Another candidate for secretary of state, state Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, said Gaynor's remarks were worrisome, the report said. 

Maggie Acosta, lead canvasser for a progressive voter advocacy group, told the Republic that Spanish-language materials were crucial in Arizona because many of the state's voters who speak and read English still prefer to cast a ballot in their first language, to make sure they cast their votes correctly.

“A lot of the people are willing to (vote), yet they are afraid that they’re going to make a mistake on something," Acosta said. "They get discouraged and they’d just rather not vote."

The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires that some districts provide election materials in other languages for minority citizen groups who speak different languages, according to the report. 

“A lot of the people are willing to (vote), yet they are afraid that they’re going to make a mistake on something. ... They get discouraged and they’d just rather not vote."

- Maggie Acosta, leader canvasser

Based on U.S. Census data demographics, 10 of Arizona's 15 counties must provide voting materials in languages other than English, the Republic reported. About 900,000 Arizona voters are eligible to receive translated ballots under the law, the report said, citing Census data. 

Gaynor said the counties should be able to decide if they want to print materials in Spanish.  

He added that learning English would help immigrants "assimilate into American society," the Republic reported.

Click here for more from the Arizona Republic.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.