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Ear to the Ground

Millions of Latinos May Kiss Their Votes Goodbye

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Posted on Sep 25, 2012
Rob Boudon (CC BY 2.0)

Laws recently enacted in several states where minority votes could swing the election may prevent up to 10 million eligible Latino voters from casting their ballots this November, a new study shows.

Republican legislators say laws such as those requiring people to present photo IDs at the polls are intended to protect the election process against voter fraud. But as Eugene Robinson recently wrote in a column on Truthdig:

Voter ID laws are not a solution to the “problem” of voter fraud. There is no problem, or at least no problem that would be solved by voter ID. Proponents should be able to point to troubling instances of voter-impersonation fraud, which is the only kind that would be prevented by the new laws. But they can’t. For all intents and purposes, this kind of fraud simply does not happen.

The specter of in-person voter fraud is just that—a ghost of the kind children’s stories are made of, which conservatives can assail in the puffed-up, heroic-sounding language of electoral “integrity” in order to frighten Americans into supporting measures that disenfranchise their fellow citizens. The voting problem, Robinson goes on to say, is that too few Americans vote, and that elected leaders are championing the effort to undercut those Americans’ constitutional right to participate in the electoral process.

The study released Monday, titled “Segregating American Citizenship: Latino Voter Disenfranchisement in 2012,” says governments in 23 states, including Pennsylvania, Florida and Colorado, are creating photo ID requirements or matching state driver’s license databases to federal immigration registers to look for potential problems. Although voter turnout among Latinos has been notoriously low, President Obama’s support of issues favored by them, including a challenge to Arizona’s controversial immigration law and an executive order of policies similar to those contained in the Dream Act, could make the difference in what is shaping up to be a closely contested election.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Christian Science Monitor:

“Voter suppression laws and policies threaten to relegate eligible Latino voters to second-class citizenship and impede their ability to participate fully in American democracy,” the report says. “Like African-Americans, Latinos have experienced decreased access and correspondingly lower levels of voter registration and participation than non-Hispanic whites.”

Penda Hair, a co-director of the Advancement Project, told reporters during a teleconference that the new state voting laws amounted to the “greatest assault on voting rights throughout our history.”

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