NPRC and NCLR Condemn Attempts to Weaken Hispanic Vote
The National Puerto Rican Coalition Inc. (NPRC) condemned Florida’s GOP Party Committee and its legislative leadership for blatantly conspiring to suppress the Hispanic and Black vote for the 2012 election cycle. During a live television interview with Rev. Al Sharpton on his MSNBC show Politics Nation, former GOP Party Chairman Jim Greer admitted to being present during meetings where voter suppression strategies were discussed.
“We are extremely disappointed, but not surprised by this revelation. Puerto Ricans inFloridaare a significant swing voting bloc. In 2008 they supported candidate Barack Obama and in 2004 they supported then President George W. Bush. The majority, if not all, of the Puerto Rican elected officials and current candidates in Florida are Republican. These types of strategies not only weaken our democracy, but also hurt their own party members.” declared Rafael A. Fantauzzi, President & CEO of the National Puerto Rican Coalition.
There are close to 900,000 American citizens of Puerto Rican decent in Florida, according to the most recent census numbers. They are largely concentrated in the I-4 corridor area that encompasses the cities of Tampa and Orlando.
“We request the U.S Department of Justice to conduct an investigation. Puerto Ricans have given their life in battle to defend our valuable democracy. We do not need a “war on democracy” on our own soil. This is not our America; this is a third world mentality driven by fear of losing control.” said Fantauzzi.
NCLR Decries Decision to Allow Pennsylvania Voter ID Law to Take Effect
In response to last week’s ruling, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) denounced the decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson to allow Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law to take effect despite growing concerns that the law will unfairly disenfranchise minority voters. Opponents of this legislation were seeking a preliminary injunction to block the law from taking effect before Election Day.
Those in favor of the bill claim that the purpose of the legislation is to protect against voter ID fraud. Yet, earlier this month, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania conceded that there were no known cases of in-person voter ID fraud in the state’s history.
“We really need to question the purpose of this law when those responsible for helping place it on the books already admitted that voter ID fraud in Pennsylvania is nonexistent,” said Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, Director of Civic Engagement at NCLR. “Their arguments for the necessity of these laws are at best disingenuous, and at worst, an underhanded attempt to deny thousands of Pennsylvanians their right to vote.”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania estimates that more than 750,000 eligible voters lack the forms of identification required by the new bill. Minority voters, including Latinos, as well as the elderly and the state’s college-aged youth, will be most affected by the new changes because they are less likely to have state-issued photo identification.
And Puerto Ricans living in Pennsylvania, who make up half of the state’s Latino population, may face an additional hardship—in 2010, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico invalidated all of its birth certificates and required the issuance of new forms. This process has been cumbersome and lengthy for some; many are still waiting for their applications to be renewed, which means that those without a photo ID may not be in possession of the new document in time to vote in the upcoming election.
“We are disappointed by today’s decision and fully stand behind efforts to appeal this ruling,” said Rafael Collazo, Director of Political Campaigns for NCLR. “Voting is a right of every eligible citizen; Pennsylvania should focus on ways to increase the participation of all of its citizens in the electoral process rather than seek ways to block our most basic constitutional right.”
NCLR is taking a lead role to counter this attack on Hispanic and minority civil rights. NCLR’s local Mobilize to Vote (M2V) campaign, working closely with Pennsylvania Affiliates such as the Association of Puerto Ricans on the March, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, and The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Inc., will register and educate Pennsylvania Latino voters on the new voter ID requirements. The local campaign expects to register and mobilize over 10,000 new Hispanic voters for the upcoming elections. NCLR is also a lead organization in the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition, which is coordinating statewide advocacy efforts to defend the voting rights of all citizens.
Additionally, NCLR is currently involved in litigation in Florida and Nevada against similar attempts at minority voter suppression.