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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/25/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Activists say laws are a political ploy by Republicans

New laws in several U.S. states that require photo identification prior to casting ballots could hinder at least 10 million Hispanics in 23 states, activists say. Statistics say that Latinos eligible to vote who might be blocked from voting this year is equal to the margin of victory in a number of states, according to civil rights group the Advancement Project.

There are three barriers to Hispanic voter participation, according to the report: citizenship-based voter purges, proof of citizenship requirements and photo identification laws.

There are three barriers to Hispanic voter participation, according to the report: citizenship-based voter purges, proof of citizenship requirements and photo identification laws.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/25/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Latinos, ballots, elections, photo ID, voterregistration, green card


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Seventeen states have since enacted laws that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls before casting a ballot. Supporters of these new laws say they are needed to combat voter fraud. Civil-rights activists argue that the laws are a political ploy on behalf of Republicans to limit turnout from minority voters who traditionally favor Democrats.

An author of the Advancement Project study and an opponent of voter ID laws, Katherine Culliton-González says that those backing voter ID laws and voter roll purges back the laws "for their own partisan gain."

A record number of Latino voters - estimated at 12.2 million, are expected to vote in November. Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have actively courted the Latino vote in their campaigns. But close to 23 million Latinos are eligible to vote and experts wonder whether higher turnout could change the electoral map.

Some estimate that unregistered Latino voters could even swing some red states blue. According to the liberal Center for American Progress, 10 battleground states have a combined 12.1 million eligible but unregistered Latino voters and possibly-eligible Latino voters, who are green card holders who are eligible to become citizens and vote for the first time in November.

In the state of Florida alone, that number is 1.4 million, which is five times Obama's margin of victory in 2008.

In spite of this, according to the Advancement Project report, casting a vote is difficult for many Latinos.

"Like African Americans, Latinos have experienced decreased access and correspondingly lower levels of voter registration and participation than non-Hispanic whites," reads the Advancement Project's report.

There were more than 21 million Hispanics of voting age in the country in 2010, according to the study, about 10 percent of all eligible voters and about eight percent of registered voters.

Despite this, 6.3 million eligible Hispanic voters said they were not registered to vote. Another 10.8 million said they did not vote. Essentially, nearly half of voter age Hispanics did not vote. By comparison, only 38 percent of non-Hispanic white citizens of voting age did not cast ballots.

Latinos already vote at a lower rate than others of differing backgrounds, and Culliton-González says such laws make Hispanics nervous to cast ballots.

Culliton-González cites voter ID laws and purges as a potential reason that the voting age population was also more excited to vote in 2008. "Politics aren't important," she said. "What's important is voting."

In response, Culliton-González suggests making voter information available in Spanish, recruiting poll workers at naturalization ceremonies and extending early voting periods and late-night voting options.

There are three barriers to Hispanic voter participation, according to the report: citizenship-based voter purges, proof of citizenship requirements and photo identification laws.

Sixteen states that have either adopted or are pushing for citizenship-based voter purges include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

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