It is no secret that the same people who want to kick Latino immigrants out of this country also want to stop Latino US citizens from voting in this November's election. The anti-immigration movement and the minority voter suppression movement are two sides of the same coin. An article by Axel Caballero on the website mycuentame.org published earlier this year (March 21, 2012) has the title: What do Voter Suppression and Anti-Immigration Efforts Have in Common? Kris Kobach.
The article starts off:
"If you think the metastasizing problem of photo voter ID laws has no connection to anti-immigrant "illegal alien" paranoia, one need only examine the example of Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach. Not satisfied with the strict photo voter ID bill he helped become law in Kansas last year, Kobach also created a law that would make first-time voter registrants show proof of their citizenship...it's clear where the secretary of state is headed with this: a system where anyone who is an immigrant, or even looks like they might be an immigrant, but is eligible to vote will feel discouraged from showing up at the polls to exercise their franchise toward democracy [sic] (emphasis added).
The article goes on to describe how Kobach, who helped to draft harsh anti-immigrant laws in Alabama and elsewhere, has also been traveling around to other states to assist them in making both voting and immigration more difficult. Lest anyone mistakenly think that voter suppression laws in a number of states aimed against Latinos and other minority US citizens who might vote Democratic are not likely to affect the election results, a more recent (and for purists like myself, more grammatical) article in the July-August 2012 issue of Harvard Magazine by Professor Alexander Keyssar ot the Harvard Kennedy School of Government entitled Voting Rights and Partisan Practices should disabuse anyone reading it of this misconception.
Dr. Keyssar points out that strict voter ID laws are not the only methods which are being used in a number of predominantly Republican states to keep hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of eligible voters from casting ballots; many other techniques are being used as well. These include closing down registration drives by organizations such as the League of Women Voters, shortening early voting periods and prohibiting voting on Sunday before election day.
The voter ID requirements themselves are not neutral ones which apply to all voters equally.Instead, in many states, they place a disproportionate burden on minorities, the young and the poor, who normally vote Democratic and are expected to have a harder time obtaining the required state issued photo ID. However, ID held by voters who are considered more likely to vote Republican, such as concealed gun permits in Texas, is accepted.
Dr. Keyssar writes that even though it is impossible to tell how many people will be turned away from the polls this year because of these restrictive laws - it could be as high as five million - it may be large enough to affect close races for Congress and even the presidency. He also writes:
"Studies indicate that they [voters lacking the required forms of ID] are disproportionately young or elderly, poor, black and Hispanic; demographically, they are more likely than not to vote Democratic".
If the Republicans were to take over the White House and both houses of Congress in a close election won by keeping Latino and other eligible minority US citizens away from the polls, what kind of immigration initiatives could we expect to see coming from such an administration? One could look to Alabama and Arizona for the answer.
What would such a rigged, undemocratic election result say about the legitimacy of a Romney presidency? And what kind of democracy would be left in America under such a whites only election system? The only possible comparison would be with the "democracy" that South Africa used to have under Apartheid.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.