Could New Voter ID Laws Really Disenfranchise 10 Million Latinos?


Latinos already vote at a lower rate than their non-Latino peers, and Culliton-González says such laws make Hispanics nervous to cast ballots. She added that voter registration among Latinos is down from 2008. While Culliton-González cites voter ID laws and purges as a potential reason, the voting age population was also more excited to vote in 2008 in general, which may contribute to the lower numbers.

"Politics aren't important," she said. "What's important is voting."

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

The report flags three barriers to Hispanic voter participation, specifically citizenship-based voter purges, proof of citizenship requirements, and photo identification laws.

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

While some of the states with the largest Latino populations are not on that list -- California and New York, for example -- nearly 5.5 million registered Latino voters, and 1.1 million naturalized citizens from Latin America, live in those states, according to the report.

And the report indicates that the process some states use to purge voter rolls is prone to error. In Colorado and Florida, for example, the report says the states identified voters for possible purging by comparing their voter registrations with driver's license databases that show which voters identified as immigrants.

But naturalized citizens often receive driver's licenses as legal immigrants before becoming citizens, and thus before registering to vote, meaning the lists of voters to be checked could include naturalized citizens, according to the report. Florida stopped using the system once officials realized the database was outdated.

Laws requiring documents such as a birth certificate or a passport to register to vote are in effect in several states, including Georgia, and a number of states have attempted to pass laws requiring photo identification to cast a ballot.

A law in Pennsylvania was recently returned to a lower court, while South Carolina is currently hearing a similar photo ID case.

Proponents of such laws say they prevent voter fraud, but instances of in-person voter fraud, which the photo ID requirement is designed to prevent, are quite rare.

There are more than 13 million voters in Texas and only 50 cases of voter fraud, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot, who backs such laws. Texas' law was recently shot down in court -- and few of them involved in-person fraud.

Judges in Missouri and Wisconsin have sided with opponents of the voter ID laws, but there are a number of states where voter ID laws are still pending.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...