Tag: voter registration

BrooklynImmigration News

Voter Registration 101: How Do New Citizens Become Voters?

In the midst of the swirling allegations of fraudulent voter registrations, I thought it would be useful to explain how most of the nation’s immigrant citizens become legally registered voters. Federal authorities are investigating alleged voter registration fraud by the community group ACORN, and a controversial recent report warned of up to 2 million non-citizen immigrants voting nationwide.(Click here for more of Feet in 2 Worlds’ coverage of the report on non-citizen voters, released by a publishing house the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a hate group.)

Most immigrant rights groups focus their large-scale — and, by law, nonpartisan — voter registration efforts on ceremonies where immigrants officially become U.S. citizens. Concentrating on citizenship ceremonies ensures that the people who register to vote are citizens. The lion’s share of newly- naturalized U.S. citizens register to vote this way.

Registering to vote if you are not a U.S. citizen is a felony. This means that if you are an immigrant who isn’t a citizen and you register to vote, you are breaking federal law, and are subject to deportation.For this reason alone, immigrant rights groups are very careful to make sure they do not register non-U.S. citizens to vote.

The ceremonies themselves are huge and moving affairs where hundreds or occasionally thousands of immigrants become citizens after years of waiting to make their way through the quicksand of the legal immigration system.(Check out GOOD and Reason magazines’ recent charts, which outline just how many years this process takes – six to ten years in a best case scenario, twelve to twenty at its worst).Voter registration rates at citizenship ceremonies are typically very high: usually about 75-90% of new citizens choose to register, a rate higher than the 2006 national average of 68% of all citizens eligible to vote .

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Immigration News

Acceptance Speech Preview: Obama To Unveil Massive Voter Registration Drive

Offering a glimpse of Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field tomorrow in Denver, a top campaign official said Obama will announce an unprecedented effort to enroll new voters before the November election. Obama’s Latino Outreach Director, Temo Figueroa told Feet in 2 Worlds, “You’re going to be hearing tomorrow from Barack Obama the kick-off of the largest voter registration drive ever in a presidential campaign.”

Figueroa’s remarks followed a presentation to the Hispanic Caucus this morning in Denver where he characterized the resources the campaign will put into the program as, “mind boggling.”

[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_temo2_speech.mp3]

“Tomorrow (in his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination) you are going to hear Sen. Barack Obama talk about voter registration and he’s going to mention some numbers that we’re going to be spending on voter registration through the month of September that will be mind boggling. That’s going to be a focus of his speech at Invesco,” Figueroa promised.

Figueroa also told FI2W that unlike past elections, the campaign will not “contract out” the job of registering voters.

“But we’re doing it in-house. We’re doing it with our own volunteers, with our own staff,” he said.

“We’re already making a dent,” he said. “The numbers are already showing what we’re doing in Virginia, what we’re doing in New Mexico, what we’re doing in Colorado and Nevada. It’s amazing.”

[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_temo1_interview.mp3]

The Obama campaign’s emphasis on voter registration started even before Obama had won the primaries. On May 10th the campaign launched Vote for Change, a 50-state voter registration drive which was intended to lay the groundwork for a general election campaign.

“I believe the only way Barack Obama can win is we have to play in states we normally, as Democrats, never played in, and we have to bring new people in,” Figueroa said.

While Obama’s voter registration drive will target Americans all of backgrounds, the Obama campaign has previously pledged 20 million dollars on Latino outreach efforts including voter registration and paid media. The campaign has 400 Latino organizers and is training hundreds of volunteers to increase turnout among Latinos in key battleground states. In New Mexico alone, where an estimated 40,000 registered Latino voters didn’t got to the polls in 2004, Figueroa said the campaign has 29 field offices staffed by Latinos.

Stressing the point to the delegates at the Hispanic Caucus, Figueroa gave a Power Point presentation – complete with slides, maps and electoral math – that showed that Latinos can even make a difference in battleground states like Virginia if turnout is driven up just among currently registered voters. But he stressed repeatedly that even in Virginia there is a large group of unregistered Latinos that the campaign hopes to tap.

Acknowledging that many Latinos are still not familiar with Obama, Figueroa told the crowd that starting next week the campaign will go on air with Spanish-language ads in New Mexico, Nevada, Florida and Colorado to present Obama’s message and biography to Latino voters.