Issue Of The Week LI: Do You Think Protest Of Election Reform By Latino Students Will Impact Final Legislation?

March 25, 2013
Written by Cristina Silva - Associated Press in
National Collegiate Dialogue
Login to rate this article
In a Republican controlled State, Arizona’s voter laws are coming under fire by the Latino community over both mail in ballots and voter registration at polling centers. Photo Credit:

PHOENIX (AP) - A proposed overhaul of Arizona's early voting laws has been blasted by Latino youth who say the Republican-backed effort would suppress minority turnout just as more Hispanics are registering to vote.

Students on spring break hosted a rally at the Arizona Legislature on Thursday in opposition to two measures that would limit who gets to vote early and how mail ballots are returned to local election officials. They also met with more than 20 lawmakers, including House Speaker Andy Tobin.

Hispanics leaders, including Arizona Democratic lawmakers, said the election bills are aimed at silencing voters who tend to vote for Democrats. Republicans currently control Arizona's state government.

"We are not going away," said Daria Ovide, a Phoenix-based voting activist. "We are going to be voting no matter what and we are going to remember who was helpful and who was not helpful."

One proposed law would kick people off early voting lists if they didn't use a mail ballot during the past two federal elections. It would be retroactive to include the 2010 elections. People would be notified of their pending removal and would need to return that notice within 30 days to continue receiving early ballots. It also would make it harder for political groups to submit early ballot requests from voters.

Voters removed from the early voting list would remain registered to vote. Local election officials support the measure because voters who receive mail ballots and then show up at polling places wanting to vote can create confusion and delays.

The other measure would allow only designated people to return the early ballots. Latino groups regularly collected early ballots from voters' homes and delivered them to elections officials in 2012.

Under the proposed law, a voter would need to declare on a ballot affidavit that their vote was sealed prior to giving it to a designated delivery person. The person returning the ballot must also declare on the ballot affidavit form that the vote was sealed. Both the voter and the person assisting must print and sign their name.

Voting advocates said they registered nearly 17,000 new Latino voters in 2012 based on a review of voters with Hispanic surnames. If the measures pass, the advocates say they will have to retrace their steps to make sure those voters can still receive mail ballots.

"We are fighting a war today, a war for democracy," said 16-year-old student Jenny Diaz at the rally.

altThe bills' sponsor, Republican Sen. Michele Reagan, has been receptive to complaints about her bills in recent weeks, welcoming amendments that have softened what were once much tougher measures aimed at reducing voter fraud and eliminating paperwork for understaffed election offices. Reagan and other Republicans have denounced complaints that the measures are anti-Latino.

But critics counter that Arizona Republicans have seen other Western states turn Democratic because of ballooning Latino voter populations and are trying to avoid the same fate.

The number of Latino voters on the state's early voting list more than doubled from 2008 to 2012, according to Mi Familia Vota, a Phoenix-based organization that helps register voters. Nearly 20 percent of Arizona voters are Latino, according to exit polls and Mi Familia Vota estimates.

Latino voters have a tense relationship with Arizona election law. Arizona's Proposition 200 passed in 2004 requires that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal "motor voter" registration law. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said federal law, which doesn't require such documentation, trumps state law. Arizona appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case Monday.

What do you think?

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


National Collegiate Dialogue


Eliminating paperwork and fraud reduction

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-23 on

If the point of these new measures is truly to eliminate excessive paperwork for understaffed offices and reduce voter fraud, then it should be easy enough to document that the proposed measures are born from the problems of excessive paperwork and fraud. The fact that the new measures disproportionately affect Latino voters makes it suspicious. After all, surely Latinos are not the only ones who have mail in ballots who choose to vote at the polls rather than mail in their ballot, or who choose not to use their mail in ballot.

Republicans (as would be the case if the tables were turned) would have the public believe that there is no hidden agenda against Latinos, and perhaps there is only an agenda in their minds against illegal Latinos. But if their measures deprive LEGAL residences from their right to vote, they must come up with other measures so that they are protecting their citizens.

Legal vs. Illegal

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-6 on

If an anti-Latino agenda exists, it's probably a push against illegeal immigrants being able to vote. I don't think that exists, but it's impossible to say with much certainty. I think for these impressionable, high school aged individuals to feel personally discriminated against is a bit "off base". That is to say, I think it influences all voters; therefore, it's not discrimination against any one social identity.

However, as I mentioned in my original post, I could be blind to something painfully obvious or it could be due to being blind as a part of privilege.

Where is the correlation?

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-6 on

These changes would influence all voters, not just Latino members of the community. I'm afraid I don't see any sort of anti-Latino measures associated with these changes; however, that doesn't mean they don't exist. If the argument is regarding "Latino turnout" when voting, doesn't that choice still fall with the individual and not the election offices? I've read this article 4 times now, and I'm not seeing the problem. This could be due to white privilege, lack of knowledge regarding the general election processes, etc.

I'm a bit naive, and I assume the best of people. Therefore, I doubt that Republican Senator Reagan had an intentions other than to increase efficiency. Until I see something that targets Latinos, registered as United States citizens, on grounds greater than what I see presently, I don't see the correlation.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

I would say that I have to agree with your perspective. All political parties try to pass legislation that is most beneficial for their party but I don't feel as though it is singling out Latinos although it may affect some Latinos and many others. I am not sure if your perspective is because of white privilege. I am Hispanic and a democrat and still don't see the problem. This type of legislation does save revenue.

I have to agree with you,

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-25 on

I have to agree with you, that I don't really see anti-Latino effects coming out of this. I am ashamed to admit that I know very little about voting and election processes; come election time I research the candidates and make my own informed decisions, mail in my ballot and wait for the results. But aside from that, I do not know what processes take place, and how early voting really effects anything.

Based on some other posts, and your later comment, it does indeed seem like the Republican senator had the best intentions here. Mentioning that it would cut down on paperwork and false ballets sounds like a great idea to me. I know that a complete overhaul of the voting process is unrealistic, but it would be nice if there were a way to simplify matters. If I, an educated, English speaking, US born citizen get confused when it comes to such issues, I can only imagine the uncertainty that recent immigrants who speak English as a second language would feel.

It would be nice if the actions taken by these Latino students had some effect, but I do think that they are fighting for the wrong things. Not necessarily the wrong CAUSE, just that if they want better voter equality for Latinos in the community there may be a better way of achieving that. I, of course, do not know what this is, but they seem like a bright bunch of young adults. Perhaps by working more intimately with Republican party members, their goals can be better defined and therefore better implemented.

Latino Voting

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

Ultimately I do not think that the protests by Latino students will impact Arizona’s proposed election reform. As the article points out only 20% of Arizona’s voters are Latino, I don’t think this number is significant enough that the current legislators will be concerned with how this type of legislation will impact the Republican Parties control in Arizona. I think the argument will be made by proponents of the bill that the intent is not to inhibit Latino’s from voting but rather to make necessary changes to save revenue when many of the early ballots are not being utilized. I believe that Colorado has a similar bill in regards to who is permitted to return early ballots and personally I feel this portion is completely reasonable. Although many do have difficulty getting to the polls, for those who want to vote I don’t feel this measure would impact it.