The Latino community could increase its quota of power in all political spheres in the United States in 2012, even as hundreds of thousands of Latinos face legal barriers to casting their vote on Nov. 6, according to a report released Tuesday.
Latino voters have grown in number and political clout in recent decades, but at 14 days from the presidential elections, a number of state laws have created "significant" obstacles to their right to vote, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund said.
At a meeting with reporters, the executive director of the fund, Arturo Vargas, said that while the number of Latinos going to the polls will reach historic levels, they face state laws that make it harder to vote.
More than 219,000 Latinos could have problems voting in November due to state laws already in effect that encourage treating minority voters "with suspicion," he said.
Meanwhile, state laws that will take effect in 2013 will put some 835,000 eligible Latino voters "at serious risk" should they show up at the polls, he said.
This year alone, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee passed laws that impose more restrictions on the use of a photo-ID card in order to vote, while Florida has a law that restricts early voting, the report said.
According to NALEO, more than 12.2 million Latinos will go to the polls, a 26-percent increase over 2008 and double the roughly 6 million Latinos who voted in 2000.
This growth will continue in the next electoral cycles, taking into account that every month some 50,000 Latino teens in the United States turn 18.
Latinos make up 16 percent of the population and 10 percent of the U.S. electorate, but they will be, as in 2008, a decisive factor in the contest for the White House, as well as in other state and local elections.
According to the polls, President Barack Obama has the support of 69 percent of Hispanics compared with 21 percent for his Republican rival, Mitt Romney. EFE