Latinos represent millions
of untapped voters

Amid elections and voter ID legislation in states such as Texas and Arizona, “the Latino vote” has become a hot topic — and for good reason.

About 50,000 Latinos reach voting age every month, according to a
study by the Pew Research Center. That’s 600,000 voting eligible Latinos a year — a trend that is expected to continue for the next two decades.

By July 2050, the Hispanic population will represent 30 percent of the nation’s population, according to Census projections.

Texas has the second highest Latino population in the nation after California,
according to Census data. The Lone Stare State also is preparing to defend its voter ID in federal court next week against opponents who argue the law disproportionately affects Hispanic voters.

In Texas, the number of unregistered Latinos — 2,154,600 — exceeds the margin that John McCain had over Barack Obama in the state — 950,695,
according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

And this base of untapped voters would largely vote Democratic.

A study by the conservative public opinion group Resurgent Republic, indicates that 51 percent of Latinos are registered Democrats, 31 percent are registered Independents and 18 percent are Republican.

By Lindsey Ruta, News21

Tennessee organization encourages felons to exercise voting rights

Tennessee organization encourages felons to exercise voting rights

H.U.G.G.S. Inc. was founded by felon Sherri Jackson, center, in Nashville, Tenn., to help felons integrate into society by finding jobs and helping to restore their voting rights. Photo by Michael Ciaglo/News21

Sherri Jackson is celebrating her fifth year as a re-enfranchised voter. As executive director of the Nashville, Tenn., nonprofit H.U.G.G.S. Inc., she helps felons, like herself, integrate into society.

Jackson and about 35 other volunteers guide felons through a program that teaches time management and life skills while preparing them for education and employment.

“This is the one-stop shop,” Jackson said.

Since 2006, H.U.G.G.S., which stands for Humility, Understanding, God, Grace and Spiritual Strength, has helped about 100 felons restore their voting rights. Jackson said she had to lose that right before realizing its importance.

“Before I was convicted … I didn’t vote … I didn’t care to vote,” Jackson said. “I felt that I did not have a voice.”

Jackson gained a new perspective.

“Once your voting rights are taken, you really don’t have a voice or a citizenship,” she said. “I just got really excited about being a part of something that is major.”

By Carl Straumsheim, News21

Voter ID report by bipartisan commission still at issue, 7 years later

The bi-partisan Commission on Federal Election Reform issued a 2005 report that recommended 87 changes to the U.S. electoral system. Many of those recommendations have not been implemented, but Robert Pastor, executive director of the commission, said it’s not too late.

“Almost every significant electoral system in the democratic world requires some form
of voter ID for its citizens to vote,” Pastor said. “The United States is one of the very few (that do not) and that’s mainly because our entire electoral administration system is severely lacking and one of the least impartial and professional election administrations in the entire world.”

In recommending that voter ID be required at polls, Pastor said, the commission considered Republican and Democratic views.

“There were two concerns, one by Republicans that an absence of voter ID can lead to
 electoral fraud and, from Democrats, that the inclusion of a voter ID card could lead to
disenfranchisement,” he said, adding that the commission sought a compromise.

Commissioner Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, dissented, writing that the proposal “would prevent eligible voters from proving their identity with even a valid U.S. passport or a U.S. military photo ID card.”

Overton added that the ID proposal would make “the poor, the disabled, the elderly, students and people of color would bear the greatest burden.”

Overton’s dissent was sharp, but part of the commission’s discussion.

Pastor was disappointed in the reaction from elected officials, he said.

“The people on the commission were eager to listen to each other and to find legitimate areas of agreement,” Pastor said. “Our politicians are not interested in listening to each other and prefer a polarizing political climate. That’s where we are as a country.”

By Caitlin O’Donnell, News21


Sam Reed: Monitoring Washington elections

Sam Reed: Monitoring Washington elections

Secretrary of State Sam Reed's responsibilities include overseeing elections is Washington state. Photo provided.

A part of Sam Reed’s job as Washington’s secretary of state, is chief election official.

Reed, who is retiring this year, might best be remembered for overseeing the state’s 2004
gubernatorial election – the closest in U.S. history – and the recount that

“We made sure that everything we did was in public view,” he said. “If
there were mistakes I was the first one to announce them and here is
what we are going to do about them.”

That chapter in Washington election history exposed weak points in the state’s
voting system. Reed spent the last eight years attempting to
strengthen it, including introducing a vote-by-mail system last year.

By Joe Henke, News21


Coffee Break Ballot, June 6: Current Trends In Voting Rights

Much of the buzz in the digital conversation on voting rights this morning is a holdover from yesterday’s hotly contested Wisconsin recall election. Supporters and activists on both sides are alleging fraud, suppression and misinformation for voters in Wisconsin.

We’ll discuss some Twitter trends on those issues later, but first — a roundup of what we’ve been discussing in the News21 newsroom this morning.

What We’ve Been Reading

League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote Announce Resumption of Voter Registration in Florida,” (LWV Florida / Rock the Vote Florida Press Release, 06/06)

Voter thwarted in Waukesha for lack of ID,” (Laurel Walker, 06/06, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Photo ID, please,” (Editorial, 06/06, New York Post)

Voting Hot Report, 1996-2010,” (Special Report, U.S. Census)

Statistics show voter fraud is a rare occurrence in Florida,” (Kathleen Haughney, 06/06, Orlando Sentinel)

Twitter Trends

We tweeted early and often last night, but there’s nothing like a busy day of elections to spike mentions of voting rights-related phrases on Twitter. Thanks in part to alleged improprieties in the Wisconsin recall election, users around the Web mentioned “voter fraud” more than 7,600 times and “voter ID” more than 3,500 times, according to

This morning, users have been tweeting and retweeting accusations of voter suppression, voter fraud and improper demands for voter ID in the aftermath of the Wisconsin election. (Note: Part of the state’s controversial voter ID law is suspended, pending a court review.)

For more of what we’re reading and where we’re reporting, be sure to follow @WhoCanVote.


CNN, NBC News project Gov. Scott Walker as recall winner

CNN and NBC News have projected Gov. Scott Walker as the winner in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett needed a strong showing in Madison and Milwaukee, but Walker outperformed Barrett in rural and suburban districts. Democrats made a final push to turn out the vote in urban centers, but could not compensate for Walker gains elsewhere.

For additional election night coverage and analysis, follow @AJVicens and @Khantasha, as well as @WhoCanVote.

Countdown to Wisconsin recall

A race that is being called the most important until the November
presidential election has brought national attention to Wisconsin.  Tomorrow’s recall election pits Republican Gov. Scott Walker against his 2010 Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  Walker, who has raised raised roughly $30 million, has been applauded and chided for his fight to dismantle the
collective bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin. He could
become the first governor in the state’s history and only the third
in U.S. history to be recalled.

Barrett, a Democrat, could win the gubernatorial prize he sought in 2010.
His campaign hopes to motivate minority voters who supported then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 but stayed home during the 2010 state contest.

Both political parties see the race through a national lens with
implications for November. A Walker win could buoy Republicans
nationally, the Tea Party movement in particular. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty campaigned for Walker. Barrett, whose been behind in many polls, but got a boost last week with a
solid debate performance against Walker and a campaign stop Friday by former President Bill Clinton.

It’s high stakes for both sides, including a virtual army of union members, poll
watchers and other activists.

Follow us at @khantasha, @AJVicens and @WhoCanVote for
updates from Wisconsin throughout today and election day.

By AJ Vicens and Natasha Khan, News21

Countdown to Wisconsin recall

Texas primary: De La Fuenta campaign comes to a close

Supporters gathered at Juan in a Million in Austin on Tuesday night to celebrate 167th District Judge candidate, Efrain De La Fuenta. De La Fuenta lost to David Wahlberg, who won with 56 percent of the vote. Despite his loss, De La Fuenta was optimistic and thanked his supporters. – By Lizzie Chen, News21

Texas primary: De La Fuenta campaign comes to a close

Judge Efrain De La Fuenta talks to a group of campaign supporters Tuesday night at his primary watch party at Juan in a Million in Austin, Texas. De La Fuenta lost the Democratic 167th district court primary to David Walhberg. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21

Texas primary: De La Fuenta campaign comes to a close

Voters in Austin gathered at Juan in a Million to show support for candidate Efrain De La Fuenta. While eating tacos and queso, they watched as the election results rolled in. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21

Texas primary: De La Fuenta campaign comes to a close

Voters, including members of Efrain De La Fuenta's family, drove to Austin, Texas, to show support for De La Fuenta's campaign. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21

Hispanic organization reports low turnout in Austin, Texas

Despite efforts by advocacy groups to engage the Latino community, Austin’s Hispanic voters comprised just seven percent of the turnout in Travis County, said Linda Chavez, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

That is typically low for the county, Chavez said, and she thinks the delayed Texas primary, originally scheduled for March 6, played a roll in the low turnout Tuesday.

The Latino community has a pattern of low voter turnout, and engaging future voters is a topic LULAC plans to discuss at its state convention June 7-10, Chavez said.

By Lindsey Ruta, News21