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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day Thoughts On The 2010 Latino Vote:

(This entry can also be found @ http://cuentamecentral.com/?p=1577)

It’s mid-afternoon in California, but my Blackberry has been ringing and buzzing since before sunrise…

Spanish-speaking voters in California received notices in their mailboxes that due a technical problem, the election has been moved. This is a deceitful and fraudulent attempt to keep Latinos from voting today. It is a lie. It is wrong. It is a crime. It is also a smart tactic to suppress the Latino vote and steal the election:

While tampering with the contents of someone’s mailbox is a federal offense, as is providing someone with knowingly false information about an election, this tactic serves to redirect resources, and prevents campaigns from turning out as many voters to the polls. Please remember that the average campaign office only has a handful of people responsible for making thousands of phonecalls and knocking on thousands of doors. Once someone has been contacted, the campaign staffer or volunteer responsible for reaching out to a lengthy list of voters moves on to the next person on the list. If this staffer or volunteer has to double back and make sure that no one was fooled by some official looking notice, or official sounding phonecall, that contains misinformation, this increases the chances that someone further down on that list won’t get contacted. In addition, while staffers and volunteers spend their time chasing after the recipients of the misinformation, they are more likely to miss calls from people who need language assistance, or a ride to the polls. Because this is all happening on Election Day, this means that people calling to report problems at their place of voting are now competing for the attention of these very same staffers and volunteers.

We all remember the 2000 Florida Recount that the Supreme Court voted to end that made George W. Bush President, but did you know John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960 by one vote per polling place. Al Franken won a Senate race in November 2008, and was not sworn in until July 2009, because the results of the election were so close. In 2006, (during the last midterm election cycle) Oklahoma’s 25th Congressional District seat was claimed by a victor who earned exactly two votes more than his opponent.

It pains me to admit, but voter suppression tactics work well to change the outcome of close elections.

And the only way to really and truly combat these slimy entities that operate without morals or ethics is to make sure all who are eligible register before the deadline, and actually vote in each and every election.

Take for example the City of Bell, one that has been in the headlines lately because of all of the profiteering and corrupt practices elected and appointed administrators have been able to get away with for the last several years. Bell has over 10,000 registered voters, but only 500 of these voters have participated in six out of the last six elections. It is hard to believe Bell taxpayers would have had their money stolen if Bell voters were more engaged during election years that did not have a President or Governor on the ballot.

There are approximately 6 million Latinos in New York, Florida, California, and Texas alone, who are US citizens, eligible to vote, but have yet to register, and are unlikely to participate in the 2010 election. Why?

Maybe because the English-language media sometimes asks pundits about the “Hispanic vote,” yet never actually engages in a dialogue with Latino voters. But perhaps also because we enable the excuses our friends and families give us for not registering to vote before the deadline, or if registered, for not actually voting on Election Day—we have to be willing to push back if friends and family members are not voting!

In order to do away with discrimination—the bigotry and bias of individuals, as well as the systemic, pervasive and habitual policies that institutionalize the racism and xenophobia that harm Latinos
in housing, lending, (redlining) employment, and education—we must vote today and in all elections!

Almost 60% of all Americans go online through a wireless laptop or a cell phone. This statistic is not based solely on the activities of teens and twenty-somethings. Over 43 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 49 access the Internet through a wireless connection. If we note that African American and Hispanic WiFi consumers are at the forefront of mobile-Web adoption, and that more than 50 percent of Latinos and over 46 percent of African Americans access the Internet on their phones, compared with 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Then we must conclude that many Latinos can access the many places online where US citizens can register to vote. They choose not to. And it is this choice we must confront.

Of the 46 million Latinos in the USA, 60% have been citizens since birth. If those who have always had the power to vote elected representatives that supported the DREAM Act, for instance, automatically nearly 2 million more young Latinos would be on the path to citizenship and voting. If those who have always had the power to vote helped the 40% of Latinos who were born abroad get on the path to citizenship and voting, we would never again see injustices like the kinds we’ve seen recently:

Does anyone think Governor Brewer and her state legislature would have unleashed racial profiling law SB1070, if the 30% of Arizonans who are Latino actually voted?

Does anyone think if the same number of Latinos in California voted in every election as watch TV every week that 50% of Latino homes in California would have gone into foreclosure?

Does anyone think if the 100,000 eligible Latino voters in Pennsylvania were to register tomorrow, and vote in each and every future election, that any elected judge would ever again allow an all white jury to acquit two white men responsible for beating a Latino immigrant to death?

I can’t tell you how absolutely crazy it made me at the beginning of October when a Pew Hispanic poll said that nearly half of all registered Latino voters were planning on skipping the election. Or when those wolves in sheep’s clothing calling themselves, “Latinos For Reform” released ads in English and Spanish telling Latinos not to vote. Make no mistake about it, Latinos, already have the power to decide elections in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, etc. Telling Latinos not to vote in any of these States constitutes a blatant attempt to muzzle Latino voices. A relentless barrage of political ads aimed at convincing white voters that Latinos are gangs of thugs who cross the border in packs of “illegals” in order to commit crimes, collect welfare checks, and send their kids to college on someone else’s dime, constitute a blatant attempt to discredit Latino voices… It’s like there’s a war against us.

In the United States of America, it is now more common for a young Latino (man) to go to prison than to go from high school to college. And a young Latina (woman) is now seven times more likely to have kids, and live in poverty because she never finished her degree, than any of her white peers. One-third of young Latinos already live below the poverty line. And with so many dropouts, with so few going to college, and with so few living wage jobs, things are only going to get worse… Unless, of course, Latinos always vote:

City and County elections are important. These local officials are the ones with the power to decide what kind of taxes you will have to pay monthly, how much money will go to neighborhood and charter schools, how many police and firefighters are there to help you, if someone will pick up your garbage and how often, etc. Again, just ask the residents of Bell how critically important it is to engage citizens in local politics. Yet today’s 2010 Midterm election is critically important for another reason. There are more than 30 gubernatorial contests going on, and the outcome of today’s races will influence the boundaries of every single last Congressional District until 2020. South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Indiana, and Georgia, for example, are poised to add 1 to 3 new members each to the House of Representatives. The idea that only elections in years when we select a President are important is a false notion. Every election is critical and has several long lasting implications. I encourage you to develop a tradition in which everyone comes together and participates in voting the same way everyone comes together and participates in a wedding.

Each time we vote, we have the power to change our lives, as well as the lives of others. And the only way to get others to stop pinning the blame on Latinos for illegal drug trafficking, overwhelmed emergency rooms, public health crises, excessively high crime rates, overcrowded prisons, the length of unemployment lines, strained welfare roles, school violence, test scores that compare unfavorably to those of other nations, and so on, and so forth is to VOTE today, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, and in every upcoming election.

Robert de Posada, the founder of “Latinos For Reform,” cast a ballot. After making such a huge stink in the press, and with the public, after insisting that Latinos should not show up on Election Day, he voted. And the sleazy, shady crowd who told Latinos in California not to vote today, already voted as well. Trust.

Polls are not closed on the East Coast. You have until 8 pm to get in line. Here in CA, 4 hours remain…

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