WASHINGTON (AP) — The combined effects of voter roll purges, demands for proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements in several states may hinder at least 10 million Hispanic citizens who seek to vote this fall, civil rights advocates warn in a new report.
Hispanic voters are considered pivotal to the presidential election this November, and are being heavily courted by both Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. If they turn out in large numbers, Hispanics could sway the outcome in several swing states.
In an analysis based on government data, civil rights group The Advancement Project identified legal barriers that could deter voter registration and participation among eligible Hispanics. In some of those states, the group's researchers said, the number of voter-eligible Latino citizens potentially blocked by those barriers exceeds the margin of victory in the 2008 election.
"Like African Americans, Latinos have experienced decreased access and correspondingly lower levels of voter registration and participation than non-Hispanic whites," said the report, which was being released Monday.
The report called for repeal of policies that wrongfully inhibit Hispanic voters, and asked that the Justice Department investigate and prosecute "any related voting rights violations."
According to census data, there were more than 21 million Hispanics of voting age in 2010. They comprised roughly 10 percent of all eligible voters and 8 percent of registered voters in the U.S.
Among eligible Hispanics in 2010, 6.3 million said they were not registered to vote, and 10.8 million — about half of those of voting age — said they did not vote, the report said.
By comparison, the report said, there were 172.4 million non-Hispanic white citizens eligible to vote in 2010, with nearly 18 percent unregistered and 38 percent who said they did not vote.
There are three significant barriers to Hispanic voter participation, researchers said: citizenship-based voter purges, proof of citizenship requirements and photo identification laws.
Sixteen states have either adopted or are pursuing citizenship-related purges of their voter rolls, the report said. Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.