April 3rd, 2012
Latino Voter Registration Is In Decline

Voter registration is a precarious thing. Latino voter registration even more so.

I spent the better part of 2004 registering voters in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, all in preparation for the 2004 presidential election. I was working for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) directing a team of,  at it’s highest number, a total of 750 staff and volunteers in 3 states. It was an all-hands, all-out effort. There was an urgency to our mission with the back drop of a clock ticking towards a deadline.

In New Mexico especially – considered that election to be a swing state – there was a voter registration frenzy. Voter registration groups were bumping into each other at street corners. In the end we registered 40 thousand new voters that year. In retrospect it sounds like a heyday.

Recent reports tell of a decline in Latino voter registration – leaders are taking a second, and sometimes a third look at the process and reassessing funding priorities. There’s a bold new goal: 12 million registered Latino voters by November. That means that between now and then we need to register another 2 million new Latino voters. There’s an urgency to this.

My former boss at SVREP, Antonio Gonzalez, recently sounded the alarm:

“We see that for the first time since the 1970s that Latino voter registration did not grow in consecutive non-presidential cycles,”

In 2006 and 2010 Latino voter registration actually declined – this after a steady growth of almost 40 years. And one of the reasons given is the recession: many Latino voters have moved in search of jobs and have not registered to vote at their new homes.

This is serious, given all the talk of the importance of the Latino vote and the new found political power of the Latino community. It’s all empty posturing if at the point of contact, if at the moment of flexing those mythical political muscles Latinos don’t vote because they weren’t registered.

We at NewsTaco would like to know what our readers think they can do to help. We know that our readers are by and large connected and more than likely registered. So how can we use that community to increase the number of registered voters? Let’s say we begin with your ideas. We’ll be looking for partnerships to make it happen.

[Photo By kristin_a]

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