Afraid, Republicans Tell Latinos “Don’t Vote”?

Looks like right-wingers are at it again engaging in election fraud tactics.  Maybe it’s time to bring back the “Steal Back Your Vote” campaign.

Perhaps in a sign of conservatives recognizing that the Latino vote might be this year’s “October surprise” of the midterm election cycle, we get the following news.  Via ABC Channel 13 News in Nevada:

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – A political ad, set to run Tuesday, is enraging members of the Hispanic community for telling them not to vote.  The ad claims to have been paid for by a group called Latinos for Reform and is not authorized by any candidate or committee.

Monday night the Nevada Democratic party held a press conference. Because this ad attacks their candidates, they’re saying it has a Republican agenda.

The ad opens with an attack on the Washington Democrat powerhouses and tells its viewers failed to deliver immigration reform.

Its the ending that has Hispanic community leaders outraged:

Don’t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message, you can no longer take us for granted, don’t vote.”

“That message has to be denounced, its got to be thrown out,” President of the Hispanics in Politics organization, Fernando Romero, says.

“To ask a community, any community to silence their voice as a way to resolve or react during a time when their voice is most needed, is what makes all this reprehensible,” Luis Valera of UNLV’s Government Relations says.

Not only that, but Univision is at the forefront of this controversy, having accepted money to air the ads in Nevada.  The ad campaign appears to be an attempt to psych out Latinos to get them to stay home and not vote; frankly, it sounds very Rovian.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s part of a larger effort to suppress the Latino vote nationally, capitalizing on systemic challenges that Latino voters might run into.  TruthOut recently published a piece on the topic of voter suppression by right-wing conservatives:

A separate Truthout investigation into obstacles facing Latino voters in two emblematic states with competitive House and Senate races – Arizona and Colorado – has found that voting activists are more worried about procedural barriers often affecting minorities, also cited in the “Swing State” report, than they are about blunt, racist intimidation. But there’s little sign that state or local election officials are working to reform current election abuses before November, or that the national and state Democratic Party organizations are doing anything to pressure them to make voting more accessible for those prized Latino voters. These troubling practices include failing to provide Spanish-language materials, ballots and translators in violation of the letter or spirit of federal voting laws; a lack of formal outreach programs, especially in Colorado, for immigrants or Spanish-speaking voters, although there are 404,000 eligible Latino voters in that state; and confusing ID laws abetted by some ill-informed poll workers.

In fact, on several fronts, Arizona is the worst state for voting rights in the country, the Demos and Common Cause report found. Besides a legacy of flouting the Voting Rights Act by failing to do outreach to Hispanic voters or to provide sufficient translators, it features a draconian voter registration requirement for a government-issued birth certificate that’s already barred over 30,000 people from voting between 2004 and 2008, although 90 percent of them, court documents indicate, were native-born Americans.

On top of all that, apparent election mismanagement is so widespread that in the state’s largest county alone, Maricopa (home of Phoenix), nearly 30,000 voters – at a rate three times the national average – had their “provisional ballots” discarded as invalid in 2008. That’s an ominous sign for the admittedly lower turnout mid-terms in November. Indeed, according to poll worker and activist interviews conducted by Truthout, supplemented by a review of written complaints, poll workers in some trainings were told by county election officials to just hand out provisional ballots to people showing up in the wrong precinct, knowing full well that those votes wouldn’t be counted under state policies. Provisional ballots weren’t counted for two other reasons as well: facing a minefield of registration and ID obstacles, thousands of voters didn’t manage to get themselves registered at all, or submitted their registration too late, less than 29 days before the election.

We already saw signs of major intent to suppress the Latino vote in Arizona even before the neo-nazi SB 1070 measure was signed into law.  Investigative journalist Greg Palast revealed how Governor Brewer herself has been at the forefront of suppressing the Latino vote in her state in the past:

Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as “Prop 200,” which required proof of citizenship to register. It is important to see the Republicans’ latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, as just one more step in the party’s desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.

By suppressing voters from key demographics, like the Latino community, elections can be stolen to favor right-wing conservatives that support anti-immigrant and anti-Latino policies.  This makes it even more important for Latinos to get out and vote in mass numbers.  Experiences in past election cycles have shown that elections can only be stolen or “flipped” if the vote margins between candidates are close because then it doesn’t look “too suspicious” when votes are flipped or suppressed.  When candidates win in landslides, it makes it nearly impossible for dirty Rovian tactics to be successful because the voting numbers overwhelm the system.  I’ll say here what I have said numerous times: the only way we can overcome all these discriminatory Rovian tactics of election fraud is by showing up in mass numbers.  It’s so elemental and simple: our secret weapon is and always has been our people.  This election cycle will be no different; so get out there and VOTE and don’t let people intimidate you or psych you out into not doing so!

To learn more abou the 2008 “Steal Back Your Vote” campaign to protect minorities’ votes, visit

Update: Univision has reversed its decision.  ThinkProgress reports the following:

The network, which heads the non-partisan Latino civic participation campaign, Ya Es Hora, has decided to do the right thing and not broadcast the ads.

Also, revelations behind the right-wing front group that was paying for the ads are starting to come out (also via ThinkProgress):

To begin with, the group’s 8872 form lists the same P.O. Box number as the one belonging to the Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann Foundation, an organization founded by the chairman of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), Roy F. Hoffmann. For those who don’t recall, SBVT was another 527 group formed during the 2004 elections aimed at opposing Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) presidential bid by distorting and misrepresenting his war record.

De Posada told Talking Points Memo the address was a “mistake”: “In 2008, because the laws were so strange, we hired a political compliance company that handled our reporting and accounting.”

The connection doesn’t stop at a P.O. Box. Latinos for Reform, the Hoffmann Foundation, and SBVT have all employed the services of the same consulting firm, Political Compliance Services. Susan Arceneaux, a “long time aide of Dick Armey” heads the company. The firm markets itself as “an accounting services vendor specializing in FEC regulations. Our comprehensive approach to your individual accounting needs will deliver you from the headaches and legal ramifications of FEC non-compliance.” Latinos for Reform hasn’t filed anything with the IRS since April 2, 2009.

Latinos for Reform’s post-election 2008 report also lists an expenditure of $1,203 that went towards Paul Sullivan & Associates, a law firm recommended by the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA).

Finally, John T. Finn, who donated a total of $70,000 to Latinos for Reform, is listed as a “Producer & publisher” on the group’s contribution form.