By Vladimir Gladkov
Human rights defenders say that the new election laws adopted in nearly 50 per cent of U.S. States, to a considerable extent, infringe on the rights of the Spanish-speaking community.
As follows from a report prepared by the Advancement Project, a US organization that promotes civil rights, at least 10 million ethnic Latin Americans will not be able to exercise their voting rights during the upcoming presidential election in the USA. The publication of this report, as well as a number of lawsuits brought by the Advancement Project against the adoption of new laws, has marked the beginning of a new stage of the fight for election rights in the USA.
In this report, the Advancement Project that characterizes itself as a multi-race organization for the defence of human rights, says that 23 US States have adopted the new standards that deprive all those who were born in Latin America of the possibility to use their legitimate rights. On that list are measures aimed at spotting illegal residents of the USA, and also requirements for voters to show documents with their photos and other proof to confirm their legitimate citizenship.
Although the greater part of such measures may seem reasonable at first sight, the Advancement Project Workers believe that the mass distribution of letters to registered voters with a demand to confirm their citizenship or to be removed from the list is direct discrimination. These measures are applied mainly to people who were born in Latin America.
It should be mentioned here that not all representatives of the Spanish-speaking community in the USA agree that these laws really infringe on their rights. For example, an influential member of the conservative organization Hispanic Leadership Network Rosario Marin called the conclusions of the human rights defenders ridiculous. We should not forget though that both Rosario Marin, the former U.S. Treasurer and the Hispanic Leadership Network represent the interests of the conservatives.
The problem of laws restricting the election rights of the U.S. citizens have long become one of the most acute topics of the upcoming elections. With the help of new demands the Republicans hope to eliminate as many representatives of the immigrant communities as well as people with moderate means who traditionally support the Democrats. For their part, the Democrats are trying to aggressively hamper the realization of the programmes of their political opponents.
The fight continues with variable success. The human rights defenders won a big victory after they persuaded the Florida authorities to allow the local residents who were unlawfully crossed out from the voting lists, to take part in the voting process. Despite that, the human rights defenders continue to send alarming signals, saying that the upcoming elections may set a record in the number of violations.
Taking into account the fact that the modern election system in the USA is imperfect, it is rather doubtful that such results may come as a surprise to anybody. According to the recent report of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security headed by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, the non-transparency of the American election machine causes reasonable questions about the conformity of the principles of its work with democratic standards.
We could also mention here the dependence of this system on financial injections, the above-mentioned attempts to introduce restrictions on the voting procedure for minorities, and the inability to adequately register voters. Surprising enough here is the fact that the US government that never loses the chance to expose others as the ones who do not observe the democratic principles, does what it wants when it comes to the observance of the basic rights of its own citizens.