Activists: Hispanic voting still lags

June 10, 2012 at 1:24 PM

DENVER, June 10 (UPI) -- Latino activists say the political clout of the growing Hispanic population in the United States has yet to reach its full potential.

Voter registration among Hispanics nationwide continues to lag, which has frustrated not only Democratic strategists but community activists as well.

"Our potential at the ballot box is not being maximized," Ben Monterosso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota in Denver told fellow organizers at a recent meeting. "The untapped potential is there."

The New York Times said more than 21 million Hispanics were eligible to vote in the upcoming November presidential election. However, only about half of them are actually registered.

The newspaper said there appeared to be an historic hesitance to get involved in politics due to a distrust of government and unease over efforts to control immigration.

Denver barber Daniel Lucero told The Times his friends and neighbors feel isolated from U.S. politics. "I would say … maybe 10 to 12 percent of them vote," Lucero said. "The rest don't care. They feel like politics doesn't affect them."

The Democrats have been trying to drum up more enthusiasm – and voter registration – through concerted public-relations campaigns aimed at Latinos. The Republicans have been urging Hispanics to vote on the basis of the economy rather than get involved in debates on immigration.

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