The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, which represents 20,000 mostly evangelical churches and 7 million members, is telling its congregants NOT to vote on Tuesday. Referencing Congresses failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Hispanics are being urged not to vote for congressional candidates on Tuesday.
“We’re saying to Latinos, ‘Go to the polls, but leave the ballot blank,’” said Rev. Miguel Rivera, head and founder of the clergy group, known as CONLAMIC. “That way, our numbers, our presence at the polls will be there, and our message of disappointment too.”
“The community has been disappointed because nothing has been done for it, especially about immigration,” Rivera added. “They promise to reform immigration when they are seeking our votes, then do nothing when they’re elected. Why vote when you’ve been taken advantage of? This is a grassroots campaign.”
There are many who are outraged at the no-vote campaign.
“This does not help the [Latino] community,” said Gloria Montaño Greene, director of the Washington D.C. office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). “For individuals like Rev. Rivera and the [Latinos for Reform] video and ad last week telling us to stay home is voter suppression, un-American and cynical. This needs to be denounced.”
Sen. Robert Menéndez, the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called Rivera’s move “alarming” and “disdainful.”
Political experts agree that the Hispanic vote is crucial to the outcome of elections in several states, including Nevada, California and Colorado. Latinos comprise 9.2% of eligible voters or 19 million votes. Approximately 65% of Hispanic voters are registered Democrats while 22 % are registered Republican.
“Silence is not going to set us free,” said Clarissa Martínez, director of Immigration and National Campaigns at NCLR, a leading civil rights organization. “One of the clearest choices Latino voters may have in November is to vote for respect.”