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Report: Voting laws could hurt 10M Latinos

  |   Sept. 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- An estimated 10 million Latino voters could be dissuaded from voting in the November U.S. elections because of voting law changes, a civil rights group said.

The voting law changes -- which include purges of alleged non-citizens, proof-of-citizenship requirements and strict photo ID laws -- in 23 states have a disproportionate effect on Latino voters and other citizens of color, the Advancement Project study Segregating American Citizenship: Latino Voter Disenfranchisement in 2012, release Monday indicated.

Advancement Project said the voting law changes effectively obstruct the ability of eligible Latino voters throughout the country to cast their ballots.

"The pattern is unmistakable. State after state has moved to obstruct the ability of millions of Latino citizens to participate in our democracy," Advancement Project Co-director Judith Browne Dianis said. "This concerted effort targeting Latinos and other voters of color not only undermines the principles of our Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, but also impairs the fundamental American value of ensuring all citizens have an equal voice."

America's 21 million Latino citizens represent 10 percent of eligible voters and approximately 8 percent of all registered voters, 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data indicated.

Since 2010, more than 3.7 million Latinos became eligible to naturalize as citizens, and another 1 million Latino citizens have become eligible to vote by turning 18 years old, the Advancement Project said. All told, the potential Latino electorate could top 25 million voters, or 12.2 percent of the nation's total eligible voters.

Voting law changes that require strict documentation for registration impose unnecessary burdens on voters, particularly on Latino citizens, who are more likely to live in poverty, or not have the time or wherewithal to get the necessary papers, the civil rights advocacy group said. An estimated 16 percent of Latinos don't have a requisite photo ID, compared to 6 percent of non-Hispanic whites, the organization said.

"America is an increasingly diverse nation, but ballot access should be identical for each citizen regardless of race or country of origin," said Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, director of Advancement Project's Voter Protection Program.

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