NALEO estimates 200,000+ Latino voters will be adversely impacted by voting law changes
More than 200,000 Latino voters nationwide will be prevented or discouraged from casting their ballots in the November election due to recent voting law changes.
“One of the things that has been a great concern to us…has been the move by many of the states to introduce new requirements to voting,” said Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials (NALEO). “In many states, these have been efforts actually to make voting more difficult in our view rather than more accessible.”
The state laws that are being implemented this year include: imposing moderate and strict photo identification requirements at the polls; requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote; tightening rules on voter registrations by third party organizations; cutting back on early voting periods; and purging registered voters who are suspected of not being U.S. citizens from voting rolls.
NALEO estimated that as many as 1 million Latino voters – or 8% of total Latino voters – would have been negatively impacted in November if all of the state voting law changes had gone into effect this year.
Some of voting law changes have been blocked by the Justice Department or successfully challenged in court for potentially discriminating against minorities, disabled, and low-income voters.
Even with the legal victories, NALEO estimated that about 219,000 Latino voters won’t be able to exercise their right to vote this year.
Vargas cautioned that many of the voting laws not in effect for this election are being litigated in court and could still be upheld and enforced in 2013.
“Many of these laws are still in debate. Some of them are being appealed by the states, such as in Texas. Some of them will continue to be scrutinized. And some of them may yet come into effect,” said Vargas. “So these 800,000 Latinos who are not directly affected in November may yet be subjected to the impacts of these laws moving forward.”
NALEO is staffing a live, full-time bilingual (Spanish and English) hotline to help voters if they are registered to vote, where to vote, and what documents to bring to the polls. The hotline’s number is 888-839-8682. Voters can also call the number to report any problems in voting and ask for help if they are (wrongly) turned away from the ballot box.
“We want to make sure everybody has a right to be heard on Nov. 6th,” Vargas said.
In all, 21 states have passed laws that restrict voting access for the this year’s General Election. They include: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
In particular, Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18 votes), Wisconsin (10 votes), Colorado (9 votes), Pennsylvania (20 votes), Iowa (6 votes), and Virginia (13 votes) are the swing states that could determine the outcome of the presidential election. 270 electoral college votes are needed to win the presidency.
*Voting law restrictions in 2012:
- Moderately restrictive voter ID laws: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Utah, Virginia
- Stricter voter ID laws: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee
- Proof of citizenship at registration: Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee
- Reduced early voting periods: Florida, Georgia, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin
- New restrictions on third party registration organizations: Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas
- Voter roll purges of suspected non-citizen registered voters: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina
*State-by-State projections of Latino voters in 2012
- National: 12,237,000 Latino voters or 8.7% of all voters
- California: 3,911,000 Latino voters or 26.3% of all voters
- Texas: 1,987,000 Latino voters or 21.3% of all voters
- Florida: 1,650,000 Latino voters or 18.3% of all voters
- New York: 844,975 Latino voters or 10.8% of all voters
- Illinois: 432,607 Latino voters or 7.6% of all voters
- New Jersey: 391,570 Latino voters or 10.4% of all voters
- Arizona: 359,000 Latino voters or 12% of all voters
- New Mexico: 329,000 Latino voters or 35% of all voters
- Colorado: 224,000 Latino voters or 8.7% of all voters
- Archives.gov: Electoral college calculator
- NALEO.org: 2012 briefing on the Latino vote – Oct. 23, 2012
- Brennan Center for Justice: Election 2012: Voting Laws Roundup
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: NALEO press briefing on impact of voting laws on Latino voters in 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Ohio’s early voting appeal
- WhatTheFolly.com: Pennsylvania judge blocks enforcement of voter ID law in November’s general election
- WhatTheFolly.com: Pennsylvania’s voter ID law under scrutiny
- WhatTheFolly.com: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reveals GOP’s plans to make voter ID requirements more ‘onerous’
- WhatTheFolly.com: DC Circuit Court blocks Texas’s voter ID law
- WhatTheFolly.com: Justice Department sues Florida over voter purge