New Voter I.D. Laws May Disenfranchise Up To 10 Million Hispanic Voters

A new Reuters article warns that a new study that was released on September 23rd claims that the new strict voter ID laws in 23 states may succeed in preventing up to 10 million Hispanic voters from registering to vote. Latinos make up slightly more than 10 percent of all eligible voters nation-wide, but the Latino population in some states is high enough that preventing Hispanic voters from voting could lead to Republican victories in several states and, more alarmingly, affect the outcome of the November 6th election.

As Reuters explains, “Nationwide, polls show Obama leading Romney among Hispanic voters by 70 percent to 30 percent or more, and winning that voting bloc by a large margin is seen as an important key to Obama winning re-election. The Hispanic vote could be crucial in some of the battleground states where the election is especially close, such as Nevada, Colorado and Florida. For example, in Florida, 27 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic. With polls showing Obama’s re-election race against Romney very tight in the state, a smaller turnout by Hispanic groups that favor Obama could tilt the vote toward [Romney].”

Hispanic voters typically favor Democratic candidates; disenfranchising Hispanic votes would favor GOP candidate Romney

The new voter ID laws have encouraged some states to purge voters suspected of not being legal citizens, and civil rights group Advancement Project alleges that these purges unfairly target Latinos and could have a drastic effect on election outcomes, especially as Latino voter participation is much lower than that of non-Hispanic Whites, “In many states, the number of eligible Latino citizens that could be affected exceeds the margin of victory in the 2008 presidential election.”

The Advance Project explains that this is a widespread problem, and they strive to, “monitor and seek to ensure that election officials establish and implement fair and effective election administration procedures on a comprehensive set of issues, including voter registration, list maintenance (a.k.a. purging), poll worker training, allocation of resources to election precincts, provisional ballots and challenges.”

One state has a law in effect already that requires proof of citizenship for voter registration, which, on the face of it, does not sound unreasonable, but the standards for acceptable proof are onerous and paying for extensive documentation registration places fiscal demands on citizens, especially poorer citizens, that can discourage eligible citizens from registering to vote. It also typically takes a lot of time to jump through all the necessary hoops to get the documents that the new voter ID laws require; not everyone can risk taking time off from work to stand in long lines, fill out forms, and, in general, deal with typical inefficient government-style bureaucracy.

Naturalized American citizens are frequently targeted for challenges and voter purges, and most of these naturalized citizens happen to be person of color, and most of those persons of color also happen to be Latino. For example, “Florida’s 2012 purge program purports to remove non citizens—however, the list is so inaccurate that it has targeted thousands of citizens—the great majority of whom are voters of color.”

Hispanically Speaking News says:

“Latino voter registrations are super low and disillusionment pretty high. […] We have all been hearing for some time now how “critical” the Latino vote will be in November. A group of Latino political scientists say they have developed a way to show — and forecast — how Latinos might or might not tip the election in some competitive states this year. […] In Florida, Latinos make up 16 percent of the voters. This model predicts that if a Republican gets 51 percent of the non-Latino vote, it would need 45 percent of Florida Hispanics to vote Republican in order to win the state.  But if the Republican candidate gets less than 49 percent of the non-Latino vote, he would need 56 percent of the Latino vote to win the state. The political scientists [from Latino Decisions] explain it is not the size of the Latino voters in any particular state that determines their influence, but their turnout. In Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Latinos are only between 3 to 5 percent of the electorate, but they can “tip” a state’s results if the non-Latino vote is almost evenly split, which could happen in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania.”

As Reuters explains:

Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification. Republican-led state legislatures have passed most of the new laws since the party won sweeping victories in state and local elections in 2010. They say the laws are meant to prevent voter fraud; critics say they are designed to reduce turnout among groups that typically back Democrats.

Decades of study have found virtually no use of false identification in U.S. elections or voting by non-citizens. Activists say the bigger problem in the United States, where most elections see turnout of well under 60 percent, is that eligible Americans do not bother to vote.


It is your Constitutional right to vote. The Supreme Court pointed out that the right to vote enables us to protect all our other rights, to be served accurately by our elected representatives, and to be heard. Attempts to keep people from exercising their right to vote are discriminatory and wrong. When we prohibit or interfere with any group’s voting rights, we prevent that group from being fairly represented and heard. That’s not democracy. Latino citizens who want to vote have an equal right to be heard, and they deserve to vote without intimidation or suppression, and to have their votes counted fairly.

¡Si se puede!


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