A Message to Latinos Unsure of Why They Should Vote
August 17 2012
If Latinos ever needed reasons to register to vote, this week provided two of the most compelling.
Reason #1: This week was a historic one for the immigrant rights movement. On Wednesday, DREAMers around the country lined up to file for deferred action that will protect them from deportation proceedings for two years.
The images coming in that day were inspiring and marked what many Latinos hope is the beginning of much more substantive immigration reform.
It wasn't long, however, before the anti-immigrant folks inserted their hate into the news coverage of the momentous occasion. While thousands of young undocumented immigrants prepared for the process, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was busy issuing an executive order to all state agencies directing them to deny public benefits, such as drivers’ licenses, to anyone who obtains a work permit under President Obama's new immigration policy.
In a statement issued yesterday, NCLR’s President and CEO, Janet Murguía, called Brewer's move “…A feeble attempt to score a political point against the president’s humane and sensible action…a petty, cruel slap in the face to thousands of young Arizonans.”
Oh, but wait. There's more.
Reason #2: That same day, a state court in Pennsylvania upheld the state's controversial voter ID law, which threatens the ability of about 750,000 eligible Pennsylvanians to vote in the upcoming elections. The majority of those affected, it must be noted, are Latinos, Blacks, other minority voters, the elderly, and college students.
To make matters worse, Puerto Ricans, who make up half of the state’s Latino population, may face an additional hardship—in 2010, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico invalidated all of its birth certificates and required the issuance of new forms. Many are still waiting for their applications to be renewed, which means that those without a photo ID won't have their documents in time to vote in the upcoming election.
“We really need to question the purpose of [the voter ID] law when those responsible for helping place it on the books already admitted that voter ID fraud in Pennsylvania is nonexistent,” said Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, NCLR's Director of Civic Engagement in a statement.
Supporters of the law say it's needed to curb the “rampant voter fraud” happening in the Keystone state. Yet, earlier this month, Pennsylvania conceded that there were no known cases of in-person voter ID fraud in the state’s history. In fact, across the whole country from 2000–2010, there have been only 10 cases of voter fraud. You read that right.
We're not taking this ruling sitting down. We're working with Pennsylvania Affiliates to register thousands of Latino voters. We want Pennsylvanian Latinos to stand up and let their elected officials know that voter suppression won't fly, or else pay the price with their seats.
So, there you have it, two compelling reasons to vote.
There's a lot riding on this election and at 50 million strong, Latinos are uniquely positioned to flex their political muscle at the polls. To do that, however, we've got to register and then we've got to get out the vote on Election Day.
If we don't, we might as well get used to seeing more voter suppression and anti-immigrant policies take root across the nation.
Issues: Civic Engagement, Mobilize to Vote, Latino Voter Participation, DREAM Act, Policy and Legislation Details
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas