Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Voter Registration Drive this Saturday

This is called fulfilling a promise to never be silent again.
To apply for U.S. citizenship, a person must have been a legal permanent resident for at least five years, or three years if married to an American citizen or have served in the military for three years.

Volunteer lawyers will help attendees determine eligibility and fill out applications.

Those wanting to apply should take their resident alien card, Social Security card, state identification or drivers license, as well as a check or money order for $400 made out to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and two passport-sized photos. Photos can be taken at the fair for $10.

The fair is sponsored by Derechos Humanos, Border Action Network, Chicanos por la Causa, Mi Familia Vota and other organizations.

It will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at El Rio Neighborhood Center, 1390 W. Speedway. For more information, call 770-1373.

Here's why the mobilization is so important, courtesy of the Pew Hispanic Center
Hispanics accounted for half of the population growth in the United States between the elections of 2000 and 2004 but only one-tenth of the increase in the total votes cast, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.


The combination of demographic factors and participation rates meant that 18 percent of the total Latino population (adults as well as children, citizens and non-citizens) went to the polls in 2004, compared with 51 percent of all whites and 39 percent of all blacks.

Despite these factors, however, the Hispanic population has been growing at such a strong rate that it still has led to an increase--albeit a small one--in the Hispanic share of the overall electorate. In November, 2004, Hispanics accounted for 6.0% of all votes cast, up from 5.5% four years earlier. During this same period, the Hispanic share of the population rose from 12.8% in 2000 to 14.3% in 2004.

Some people, including the harpies and trolls that lurk on the Tucson Citizen's message boards consider this a racist movement. I disagree, obviously, these naysayers are only speaking out of fear that more people will become engaged in the political process of this country. People who care about human rights for everybody, not just those in their communities.

It's time to stop the handwringing about the system failing the poor and marginalized of this country and do some concrete work to empower the non-voting electorate to get their ducks in order. Here are some simple steps to take
  • Make sure you are registered to vote. The AZ Secretary of State website provides both online and mailable forms
  • If you are already registered, verify that your address is correct. The odious Proposition 200 was designed to disenfranchise voters by requiring government ID at the poll - "proof of citizenship"
  • Educate yourself on the candidates and ballot initiatives in your area. Don't be afraid to engage your elected officials if they do something reprehensible to your political values. Remember, they work for you.
  • Either submit your mail-in ballot or go to the polls on Election Day and make your voice heard. One vote can make a difference, it's what started the U.S. - Mexico War in 1846, brought Alaska into the fold, and countless other moments of history.

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