Vast number of unregistered eligible Latino voters could decide election in Colorado

In 2008 Barack Obama defeated John McCain in Colorado by roughly 215,000 votes. A new Center for American Progress study demonstrates that the number of unregistered but eligible Latino voters in the state is greater than the number of votes that decided the presidential contest, which is the case in most of the battleground states in the country.

The Center reports that there are roughly 163,000 unregistered Latino citizen voters and 80,000 legal permanent residents who will gain full citizenship by November who are living in Colorado. That’s 243,000 untapped votes, almost 30,000 more than the number of votes that decided the 2008 election.

The study is based on numbers compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, 2010 Census data and the 1996 to 2008 Current Population Survey.

The Center’s study is just the latest in a series of reports exploring the real and potential political power of the growing population of Latino Americans.

La Raza’s Lideres project, for example, has been lamenting since 2008 the lag in Latino voter registration. Despite years of outreach, only 60 percent of Latinos register to vote compared to 70 percent of black and 74 percent of white Americans.

The topic of Latino electoral power has become particularly charged as the Republican Party struggles not only to attract Latino voters but also not to alienate them with harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and approaches to policy questions, including those concerning citizenship and voter registration and eligibility.

Sweeping non-citizen voter-roll clean up programs, like the one championed in Florida under Republican Gov. Rick Scott and being pursued as a high priority in Colorado by Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, have drawn wide criticism for the way they will likely intimidate Latino Americans. The policies have drawn fire for addressing an alleged problem of fraud for which there is scant evidence and creating a problem of voter suppression for which there is much evidence in U.S. history– a problem in the contemporary U.S. mainly for Democratic Party candidates, who are more popular with non-white and immigrant voters.

[ Image via Center for American Progress ]


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