New efforts have emerged in states across the country, led by Republican-controlled lawmakers, following an electoral law in Georgia that would make voting more difficult by restricting access to ballot papers, which has become a national focus. Democrats say this latest front disproportionately affects Latino voters in its fight against voter suppression and must be stopped.
In states with some of the largest Latino electorate in the country, including Florida, Texas, and Arizona, GOP-led bills seek to restrict voting.
In Florida, Republicans are considering banning ballot boxes and increasing postal voting restrictions. In Texas, new proposals would severely limit early voting hours and the way people could vote early. In Arizona, a formerly red state like Georgia that the Democrats barely turned around in November, new bills would remove rare voters from the early voting list and also shorten the early voting period.
Representative Darren Soto told Newsweek that the new effort was part of a “concerted national effort by GOP lawmakers to try to attack the right to vote” because they lost the last election.
“We have a lot of new young voters because our central Florida population is young and people rely on voting by mail,” Soto said. “Without a doubt, that would affect black and brown voter turnout, especially in Latino communities in central Florida.”
The last thing Florida Democrats need is more barriers for Latinos, a population that lost large votes in November. Soto also pointed to mixed news from the Republican governor after the election.
“We saw Governor DeSantis say on election night, like Florida [administrated the election] creates trust, “he said.” If it instills confidence, it means these new changes mean direct voter suppression by all Florida accounts. “
SEIU International, one of the largest unions in the country and a reliable cog in the Democratic voter turnout machine, also shared the Republicans’ renewed interest in limiting voting to memories of the last election.
“Latino voters and workers from all backgrounds emerged in large numbers and voted for change in November, so it’s not surprising that certain lawmakers are trying to lose their power,” SEIU executive vice president Rocio Sáenz told Newsweek. “But we won’t let her.”
In Arizona, where Trump’s Biden squealed with an advantage of only 10,457 votes, he also received 63% of the Latino vote. When the election was confirmed a few weeks after election day, Republican Governor Doug Ducey vouched for the process.
“We’re making good choices here in Arizona,” said Ducey. “The system is strong.”
But now the mood in the state has changed. Democratic attorney Roy Herrera told Newsweek that he has been an electoral attorney in the state for a long time. “And I’ve never seen how many bad election proposals there are in the state and at the national level.”
He said it was harder to vote in Arizona, which means that Latino voters would be affected. He pointed out that early voting and dropboxing are popular with Hispanics, citing the stricter voter ID requirements that Republicans are proposing.
“It’s harder for Latinos to get a driver’s license, it’s less common,” Herrera said.
In addition to language and immigration aspects, there is also a financial aspect.
“It hurts the workers like an election tax did,” he said. “You have to get a government-issued ID that costs money.”
In Texas, the election for Trump, who won by 5.6%, has never been in doubt. However, Manny Garcia, who served as executive director of the Texas Democratic Party during the 2020 cycle, noted that it was the closest nationwide gap for Republicans in 20 years. Therefore, he said, Latinos would bear the brunt of the proposed changes.
“Some of the things in Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6 directly target the actions of Harris County, one of the largest in the country with a massive and growing Latino population,” he said of the 44% Hispanic county, “By the number of Hours to early voting, drive-through voting to early voting, nighttime voting, and round-the-clock voting so shift workers can cast their votes and it becomes more difficult to vote by mail. “
In Florida, Democrats said a sticking point for Republicans driving these laws was that they dominated the postal vote by an 8 to 1 lead, a dynamic that has faded in recent cycles and has been reshaped by the pandemic landscape.
Voters were used to signing up for the vote via email, which was then valid for two consecutive voting cycles, with renewal being a straightforward process. But the new legislation, which was passed by a Senate committee on Tuesday and could see a vote in the coming weeks, now requires voters to sign up for each cycle, and eliminates dropboxing altogether, which in some way burdens the voter that was im not the case in the last decade.
“There wasn’t much drama in the vote, particularly in immigrant and Latinx communities, but the proposed laws will affect low-income people who don’t have a flexible work schedule,” said Dwight Bullard, senior policy advisor for Florida Rising. the largest organization for social justice and civic engagement in black and brown in the state.
Democrats and activists fear that because of the new voting restrictions, Republicans are removing a variable they cannot control in the election – in this case, color and Latino voters.
“Donald Trump increased his win from 2016 to 2020. So you would think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if you make it harder in 2021, who exactly is it you are trying?” to make it harder? “Asked Bullard, referring to the increased turnout of blacks and Latinos in Florida in November.
“Too much turnout means you don’t know where these people are from or how they’re going to vote from year to year,” he said.
There is a poster on the wall at the headquarters of Jolt, a nonprofit that campaigns for greater citizen participation by Latinos in Texas on February 20, 2020 in Houston, Texas. The US census data shows that the Hispanic population in Texas grew 9.5 to 11.4 million between 2010 and 2018 and is well on its way to becoming the largest population in the state by 2022.
MARK FELIX / AFP / Getty Images