Thursday, October 1, 2020

We Must Protect The Rights of Latino Voters, Regardless of Their Political Affiliation

Guest Blooger: Sylvia Trujillo,Chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Project Safe and Fair Elections (Project SAFE).

A historic election is just around the corner. The significance for the Latino community will be particularly pronounced and not for the obvious reason. We will learn on November 4th whether or not we as a democracy stand by the fundamental notion that every duly eligible citizen has the right to cast a vote – whether that vote is cast for a Democrat, a Republican, a Green Party member, or a write-in candidate.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and other partners such as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) have partnered to mobilize a significant number of Latinos to become duly naturalized citizens and to register to vote. Equally important, these organizations have reached out to U.S. born Latinos and urged them to register to vote in historic numbers. The civic engagement initiatives of these organizations and others have held out the promise to the Latino community that all democracies extend the right to vote to all of their citizens and we must exercise that right in order to be heard on issues that matter to us most. In short, we all have been taught that the Constitution and a host of federal laws guarantee that the will of the people will be heard not through violence and lawlessness, but through the ballot box.

This is why the burgeoning reports of voter suppression and other tactics to disenfranchise duly registered and eligible citizen voters is so troubling in this election cycle. These reports include efforts to purge registered citizens from voter rosters in violation of federal election law, challenging the rights of registered voters who may lose or have lost their homes due to foreclosure, and the distribution of misleading voter information, for example. The litigation has already begun and Election Day is not yet upon us. Many of these tactics have been used in previous election cycles, but the consequences are pronounced for the Latino population given the large number of new and first time voters as well as the unprecedented turn out of all voters. As it is, the record smashing turn out alone will seriously strain the capacity of most states to administer in an orderly fashion voting on Election Day. Suppression tactics and strategies add further stress to the system.

The good news is that there is a broad coalition of nonpartisan grassroots and national organizations that have launched the most ambitious and far reaching voter protection campaign in the nation’s history. The National Campaign for Fair Elections includes a broad array of not-for-profit non-partisan organizations lead by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. This year the coalition of partners include NALEO, NCLR, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).

All of the above organizations have dramatically expanded the scope of their efforts to ensure that duly eligible Latino voters, particularly monolingual Spanish-speakers, have advocates available who will assist before and on Election Day. In addition, organizations such as the Latino Justice/Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, have taken the lead in bringing legal challenges to actions by state government agencies that violate federal and state law and would deny Latino voters and others their right to cast a ballot on Election Day. Members of local and regional Hispanic and Latino legal associations and societies across the country in thirty targeted states are working with local Election Protection Committees along with NALEO and their community-based partners to volunteer at English and Spanish language call centers (1-866-OUR-VOTE (English) and 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (Spanish) as well as to serve as a corps of mobile legal volunteers responsible for monitoring voting and providing assistance in targeted precincts and polling locations.

In short, there is a massive mobilization not only in the Latino community at-large, but among the Hispanic advocates, grassroots leaders and membership, and the Hispanic legal profession. The November 4th Election will be historic not simply because a woman could be elected Vice President or an African American could become President for the first time the nation’s history. On November 5th the Latino community will know whether America’s promise of full participation in the nation’s civics extends to all of its citizens. Nonpartisan election protection knows no party affiliation. Protecting the rights of our citizen’s to vote is about the rule of law, fairness, and ultimately whether or not we believe in democracy.

Sylvia Trujillo is a legislative counsel with an association in Washington D.C. She serves as the Chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Project Safe and Fair Elections (Project SAFE). If you are interested in nonpartisan election protection, please visit www.866ourvote.org to obtain more information.

We would like to thank Sylvia Trujillo for her participation in our guest blogger series and for her efforts to protect the voting rights of all Latinos in the United States.

Comments

  1. What we need is for a;ll latino’s to go votr for John McCain. If you do not what is going to happen is you’ll go from second place to third place all over again. Osama is not your friend and if you pick him he will find a way to get ridof you.