With Elections Around Corner, Hispanic Federation Recommits to Civic Engagement
There has been a withering assault on voting rights in the United States during the last decade. Republican-controlled State Legislatures in numerous states have proposed a series of laws that limit early voting, require identification to vote, and redraw districts in order to dilute the voting power of communities of color. The intent is clear. By making voting more difficult, Republicans in these states are attempting to diminish the electoral strength of our communities.
Thankfully, the state and federal courts have blunted the impact of these laws by noting their discriminatory intent. Just last week, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Republicans in North Carolina trying to overturn a lower court decision that ruled that a package of bills designed to change voting in the state was blatantly discriminatory. The Supreme Court’s decision on North Carolina, et al. v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, et al. was an important one but it’s important to note, as Chief Justice John Roberts did, that the court’s refusal to hear the appeal wasn’t an “expression of opinion on the merits of the case.” In other words, the fight for voting rights is far from over.
In response, Hispanic Federation has made a decision to increase its civic engagement work in the coming months. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Hispanic Federation launched a multi-state campaign to register eligible voters, provide them with information about the electoral process, and encourage them to cast early ballots or head to the polls on Election Day. Those efforts will continue going into next year’s midterm elections.
“It’s pretty clear to us that voting rights are under siege,” said Hispanic Federation’s Assistant Vice President for Policy Jessica Orozco. “We are watching state legislatures take aim at the most vulnerable voters including the poor, people of color, the elderly, and young people. Our civic engagement efforts are vital in that they focus precisely on these groups. Over the next several months we’ll be increasing our voter registration efforts in key states and laying the groundwork for Latino communities in particular to take a more active role in elections. We’ll also be joining with our partners across the country to oppose bills that seek to limit voting rights. Our communities have fought too hard to make sure that every vote counts and we won’t shy away from battling those groups that want to do just that.”