Illegal Voter Purges May Affect Presidential Election

Cross-posted at Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

In 2000, Florida's disastrous effort to purge former felons from voter rolls resulted in the disenfranchisement of hundreds if not thousands of legitimate voters and clearly influenced the outcome of the presidential contest in that state. History may repeat itself this November with states taking potentially reckless and unlawful measures to clean voter rolls before Election Day.

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Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino Citizenship Drive

Spanish-language television giant Univision has launched a wildly successful campaign urging its audience to become U.S. citizens - and it may pay huge dividends for Democrats. According to an article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Univision's initial run of the campaign in Los Angeles caused citizenship applications to jump  123 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the first three months of last year (compared to a 59 percent increase in the rest of the United States). Now, Univision is sending its campaign national and similar results are expected nationwide - with major gains forecast for Democrats as a result.

The citizenship drive, which is about to go national, could help turn Latinos into a key electoral constituency in several states. A larger bloc of new Latino voters would likely influence the immigration debate that has been dividing the country. In part because of this, Hispanic voters in recent elections have tended to cast ballots mostly for Democrats. For instance, in the 2006 congressional contest, Republican candidates who take a harder line on illegal immigrants than their rivals garnered only 31% of the Latino vote.

Apart from immigration, Hispanics are animated by education and employment policies, so their greater participation could shape candidates' stances on those issues as well. Given past voting patterns, "a surge in naturalizations will benefit Democrats at least twice as much as Republicans," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization. The impact could be biggest in Southwestern states such as Arizona, but it could reach as far as Florida, which recently has experienced a large influx of non-Cuban Hispanic immigrants.

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White House immigration proposal would divide families

The new, "compassionate" White House plan for immigration, which was released to the media last week, includes revamping the green card system and "cleaning up" family backlogs. It emphasizes employment and talents, instead of family ties.

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Immigrants to pay dearly for citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is accepting comments through today about its proposal to drastically increase the fees immigrants must pay to apply for citizenship.

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"Not On Our Watch" v. "Not In Our Name"

Ever since the anti-war rallies in 2002, I've been somewhat anxious about the "Not in Our Name" slogan.  I certainly agree that those who can do so safely have a moral responsibility to speak out against injustice whether or not the immediate impact of that speech is clear.  But I think the "Not in Our Name" rhetoric has a way of shifting the focus away from using mass mobilization to avert catastrophe and towards insulating one's self from future responsibility for catastrophe.  I don't think it's a stretch to hear in chants of "Not in Our Name" a grudging resignation that war will be conducted in someone else's.  That the Iraq War took place, and continues, is a reality for which all of us with the privileges and burdens of American citizenship bear some measure of responsibility.  So while I think it's good and reasonable for Americans at home and abroad to share their opposition to the Bush administration, the eagerness with which some on the left have embraced "Don't Blame Me - I Didn't Vote For Him" bumper stickers and buttons seems to evince too much pride in personal purity and too little sense of personal responsibility.

This is why I was glad to see the Save Darfur Coalition take on the slogan "Not On Our Watch." While I do believe that we have a particular responsibility to avert crimes perpetrated by our own government, I'm glad that a comparative lack of concern with allowing the Darfur genocide to be perpetrated in our names led the coalition to instead commit to stopping it from transpiring on our watch.  "Not On Our Watch" acknowledges a common moral responsibility for the crimes which take place within communities large or small of which we are a part.  When Americans take to the streets to avert a war with Iran, it would make a worthy slogan.

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