There are 323,000 eligible Latino voter in Pennsylvania, 52,000 eligible Latino voters in PA who could be impacted and 1 in 6 eligible Latino voters in the state could be left without a vote in November.
Let’s be clear: On Oct. 2 Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson blocked the state’s voter-identification law from taking effect in time for the November election.
But the Commonwealth isn’t running ads to tell you specifically that photo ID isn’t necessary to vote in the upcoming election.
A PECO public information campaign that went out to 1.3 million Pennsylvania households had the old, incorrect information.
Until Oct. 9, the Bucks County, Luzerne County and borough of West Chester official web sites still stated that photo ID was necessary to vote.
Is it a coincidence that Luzerne County has, since 2009, one of the fastest growing Latino populations in the nation? Is it coincidence that Bucks County — which has seen the number of Latinos swell from 14,005 in 2000 to 26,782 in 2010 — is another of the counties that, conveniently enough, didn’t “get the memo” about the court ruling?
Is it coincidence that the borough of West Chester, 13.5 percent Latino as of the last census count, was also disseminating the wrong information until the last minute?
Is it coincidence that the wording of the Voter ID link on the web site for Berks County — with the 17 percent Latino city of Reading — says nothing about being able to vote Nov. 6 without photo ID, but instead takes you to the VotesPA web site with its “scare” screen withVoter ID in huge letters and the image of a photo ID?
How is it that the state manages to convey the “scare” Voter ID message to Latinos in Spanish on a billboard at North 5th Street at Wyoming (in Latino-heavy Kensington), but on the Chester County web site voter info page — which actually has the correct and clearly stated information — it appears only in English? (Chester County is home to two of the municipalities with the highest percentage of Latinos in Pennsylvania — Toughkenamon, 55 percent Latino; and Avondale, 25 percent.)
According to the Advancement Project, a Washington D.C.-based civil rights organization, if photo ID were implemented up to one in six eligible Latino voters in Pennsylvania could be prevented from voting.
Go ahead, count that off. Chances are that includes at least one Latino you know.
In fact, says the Advancement Project, 52,000 of Pennsylvania’s 323,000 eligible Latino voters might be disenfranchised because of Voter ID.
That’s a lot of people.
Enough people to swing an election to suit our governor and legislative majority?
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania received $5 million in federal funding, allocated through the Help America Vote Act, to use in advertising and outreach to educate voters about Voter ID, according to Pennsylvania’s press secretary, Ronald Ruman. But that advertising is so misleadingly framed that it prompts Americans to believe they won’t able to vote this November.
A good number of us who grew up in Latin America have been teased about our“Banana Republics” — where all too often the governing party stays in power through thinly-disguised voter suppression efforts. We never thought to see that sort of thing in this nation — of which we are so proudly citizens. But, Gov. Corbett’s insistence on pushing through Voter ID in time for the presidential election seems to us, very “banana republic.”
It is doubly important, then, to make a point to get out to vote on Nov. 6. If someone asks you for a photo ID and you don’t have one but are registered you get to vote anyway.
Just sign and vote. And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.