Protect the Latino vote

The votes of 10 million Latinos in the November 6 presidential election could be jeopardized if right-wing groups are successful in their campaign to disenfranchise us.

There are now more than 20 states that are debating or have approved laws to require government-issued IDs or proof of citizenship to be able to vote. Some states are verifying the citizenship of registered voters.

Voting rights groups and the federal government have long warned that the new restrictions place a unfair burden on minority groups, the elderly and the poor. A new study from the Advancement Project, a nonpartisan civil rights organization, reveals that these legal barriers disproportionately affect Latino voter registration and participation, and could “deter or prevent more than 10 million Latino citizens from registering and voting in the 2012 elections.”

The organization calls for state legislatures to reject barriers to voting and to, instead, focus on motivating voters to participate – all in the spirit and goal to reverse the absentee trend that weakens democracy.

The Republicans who are proposing these restrictive measures argue that they’re trying to avoid election fraud. However, there is no evidence that the use of forged documents to vote is a major problem. The issue isn’t that people are voting and cheating; it’s that fewer and fewer voters are going to the polls.

The motive for this systematic effort to disenfranchise Latinos is unquestionably political. In this neck-to-neck election, if Hispanics, who tend to vote Democrat, participate massively, we could help decide significant Congressional races in several states and even the presidential election.

Each and every one of us –whether citizens or not at the moment– must be aware of this sinister political agenda.

Millions of Hispanics who are eligible to become citizens have not naturalized and almost half of Latino registered voters didn’t cast a ballot in the 2010 midterm elections.

Voting is one of the most powerful ways to make our voice heard. We must make it crystal clear that we play an active role in this democracy and will stand up for our rights.