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Voter Suppression Laws May Discourage 10 Million Hispanics, Study Finds

By Aviva Shen  

"Voter Suppression Laws May Discourage 10 Million Hispanics, Study Finds"

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A new study by the Advancement Project estimates that voter purges and ID requirements being enacted in over 20 states could disenfranchise at least 10 million Hispanic citizens. The analysis found about 6.3 million Hispanic citizens were not registered to vote in 2010, while 10.8 million, about half the voting bloc, said they did not vote. The number is bound to swell as new efforts to limit the vote in states with large Latino communities use outdated information to remove suspected noncitizens:

Those states are home to nearly 5.5 million registered Latino voters, and 1.1 million naturalized citizens from Latin America. Colorado and Florida identified voters for possible purging by comparing their voter registrations with driver’s license databases that show which voters indicated they were immigrants – thereby creating a problem, the report said.

“Naturalized citizens typically received their driver’s licenses when they were legal immigrants but before becoming naturalized citizens (and before registering to vote); therefore, this method generates lists of voters to be checked that targets naturalized citizens,” the report said.

Colorado has since called off its voter purge, but not before sending semi-threatening letters to suspected non-citizens telling them they needed to prove their citizenship. Florida has restarted a new purge with impossible deadlines for voters to prove their citizenship.

Voter ID laws throw up more obstacles, as many naturalized citizens will now be asked for additional paperwork to prove their eligibility, a requirement researchers called “onerous and sometimes expensive.”

Both presidential candidates have been fighting for Hispanic votes, making their case at the Univision forum in Florida last week. But Mitt Romney, considered the most anti-immigrant candidate during the Republican primary, has had trouble winning over Hispanics, who are overwhelmingly in favor of Obama. In order to win the election without picking up any minority votes, Romney would need to carry 61 percent of white voters to make up for this crucial demographic.

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