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La Opinión on "The Right to Vote" And The State Laws That Try To Limit Access to Voting

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Today is National Voter Registration Day.

While a broad coalition is working to get people registered to vote, a rash of state laws have been passed to inhibit that process. La Opinión editorializes about those new restrictive state voting laws — and gets to the crux of their purpose. The intent is not to protect the integrity of the voting process. That’s a red herring. The goal is to prevent some “specific groups of voters” from voting. Exactly:

In the majority of states, when the voter ID laws were approved, amendments to make it easier to obtain the documents were rejected.

An example of this politicization of the process is the Texas law that accepts hunting permits as identification to vote, while it rejected the use of student IDs for the same purpose. The priority the Republican legislature gave to one group of voters over another is obvious.

To top it off, a recent report shows that voter roll purges in several states and requests for proof of citizenship are targeted at hindering the vote of naturalized immigrants.

This entire voter ID movement is based on a basically nonexistent type of fraud. The idea is to limit the access specific groups of voters have to the polls.

Implementing a reform to identify voters and protect their rights requires money and an interest in democratic integrity that has never existed in these laws.

The recent report mentioned in the editorial was released this week by the Advancement Project. More on that report The Washington Post:

In-person voting fraud is rare, studies have shown, but there have been recent cases of absentee ballot fraud, and small numbers of noncitizens are registered to vote. In Colorado, the secretary of state’s office estimated last year that as many as 11,000 noncitizens were registered to vote. But after checking a federal immigration database, the state announced this month that 141 noncitizens were registered and as few as 35 had cast ballots.

Several of the states with more restrictive laws and procedures, such as Colorado, have large Hispanic populations. As the deadline to register voters approaches in many states, the Advancement Project’s report warns that the new rules are working against efforts to register Hispanics, the nation’s fastest-growing demographic.

Both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are working hard to appeal to Hispanics, who could be key to winning important swing states if they turn out to vote in large numbers.

Advocacy groups have been trying for several years to increase the number of Latinos who vote. In 2010, 6.3 million Latinos who were eligible to vote reported that they were unregistered and 10.8 million said they did not vote, according to census figures cited by the report.

“At the end of the day, voting should be free, fair and accessible, and these barriers are standing in the way of an increasing demographic in this country,” said Judith A. Browne-Dianis, a co-director of the Advancement Project.

As La Opinión correctly noted, these new voter ID laws are designed “to limit the access specific groups of voters have to the polls.” Based on the Advancement Project work, it appears that Latinos are one of those specific groups.

Yesterday, we learned from the ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions 2012 Tracking Poll that there has been “significant growth in Latino enthusiasm for the election.” And, as we’ve said so many times, Latino turnout can swing the Presidential election and many Senate and House races.

Instead of developing policies that will attract the votes of Latinos, seems the “Voter ID” crowd would rather just try to block them from voting.