Voter Suppression Laws Could Disenfranchise 10 Million Latinos

Advancement Project Latino Vote Report: Voter Suppression Laws Could Disenfranchise 10 Million Latinos In 2012 Elections

Contact: Rich Robinson, Advancement Project
202-728-9557, x338 or robinson@advancementproject.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) – An estimated 10 million Latino voters could be adversely affected by newly erected barriers to voting enacted by legislatures and elected leaders in more than 20 states, according to an Advancement Project study released Monday.

A flood of new state-level voting restrictions, including purges of alleged non-citizens (effective in 16 states), requirements to prove citizenship (effective in three states), and strict photo ID laws (effective in nine states), have a disproportionate effect on Latino voters and other citizens of color, according to the study, Segregating American Citizenship: Latino Voter Disenfranchisement in 2012.  In total, 23 states have adopted the policies, which have the disproportionate effect of obstructing the ability of eligible Latino voters throughout the country to cast their ballots.

“The pattern is unmistakable. State after state has moved to obstruct the ability of millions of Latino citizens to participate in our democracy,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “This concerted effort targeting Latinos and other voters of color not only undermines the principles of our constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, but also impairs the fundamental American value of ensuring all citizens have an equal voice.”
The influence of Latino voters in the electorate has grown steadily in recent years and America’s 21 million Latino citizens represent 10 percent of eligible voters and approximately eight percent of all registered voters, according to the 2010 Census.

Since 2010, more than 3.7 million Latinos became eligible to naturalize as citizens, and an additional one million young Latino citizens have become eligible to vote by reaching their 18th birthday.  All told, the potential Latino electorate could top 25 million voters, or 12.2 percent of the nation’s total eligible voters.

That voting power, however, has been under steady attack by many state legislatures and governors.  The new restrictions have the potential to prevent or intimidate millions from voting by conducting purges of the voter rolls targeting naturalized citizens just before the presidential election or requiring strict documentation for registration such as proof of citizenship or a state-issued photo ID.  These requirements impose unnecessary burdens on voters, particularly on Latino citizens, who are more likely to live in poverty or lack the time, means or transportation to attain the necessary documentation. Even Latinos who can prove their citizenship are being unfairly targeted for voter purges.

An estimated 16 percent of Latinos do not possess a requisite photo ID, compared to six percent of non-Hispanic whites, and the vast majority of targeted voters for purging are Latino, African American or Asian American.
Last month, a federal appellate court in a unanimous decision struck down the Texas voter ID law, saying the new restrictions placed “strict unforgiving burdens on the poor” and the state’s arguments in defense of the law were “unpersuasive, invalid, or both.”

In many states, the number of affected voters exceeds the margin of victory during the 2008 presidential election.  In Florida, Latinos comprise 26 percent of eligible voters, and in New Mexico, they represent 38 percent of eligible voters.

“America is an increasingly diverse nation, but ballot access should be identical for each citizen regardless of race or country of origin,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program. “Advancement Project will continue to challenge laws and restrictions that have the effect of disenfranchising eligible voters of color. And we will continue our work to ensure that every citizen is able to participate in the electoral process.”

The full report is available at  here. Voters can go to apvote.org to get the information they need to protect their votes.
 

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