Campaign season is heating up but there is a group out there telling Latinos not to vote.
Latinos for Reform, headed by Robert Deposada, a conservative political consultant, has made ads in Spanish and English telling Latinos not to vote because President Obama and other Democrats have not followed through on their promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"It's the only way for Hispanics to stand up and demand some attention," Deposada told Politico.
Deposada, a conservative political analyst who has appeared on Univision, planned to run the ads on Univision starting Thursday but the network refused to air them, according to CNN.
The ads, in English and Spanish, are still on YouTube. In the ad, they target Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, running against Republican Sharron Angle, who is in favor of strict immigration policies. Reid supports comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act but hasn't been able to move them through Congress.
In the ad a narrator says, "This November we need to send a message to all politicians. If they
didn't keep their promise on immigration reform, then they can't count
on our vote."
"Don't vote this November," the narrator adds.
Telling people not to vote is the wrong way to get attention.
I understand the genuine frustration of Latinos who are angry at the president and Democratic leaders because they have not successfully pushed immigration reform through Congress.
But to not vote, means that you don't count. That means that your voice will never be heard. People can't just give up on that popular phrase, "Su voto es su voz," or "Your vote is your voice."
What Deposada is advocating is that Latinos should have no voice. Does he want to go back to the days when Latino voters were characterized as a "sleeping giant?"
I question whether he is really sincere and if this a ploy to help Republican candidates. His supposed group, Latinos for Reform, doesn't even have a Web site.
The truth is Latino voter participation is on the rise. In 2008, 9 percent of the electorate was Latino compared with 8 percent in 2004, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.
Still more Latinos need to vote, not less. Around half of Latino voters said they will vote in the mid-term elections compared with seven-in-ten of all registered voters, also according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Democrats are starting to worry about Latino voter turnout. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to improve Hispanic children's educational opportunities.
It could be an act of good will to gain Latino voter favor.
I understand some people feel like they are always voting for the lesser of two evils. I'm not implying that Latinos should just blindly vote for Democrats either.
They should vote for the candidates they feel can best represent the issues they care about. In a recent survey, Latino voters ranked education, jobs and health care as their top three issues and immigration as the fifth most important issue, according to Pew.
If Latinos stay away from the polls, they won't have a say in influencing politicians on these important issues.
In some countries people are required to vote. If they don't, they face a fine.
In other countries, people risk their lives just by going to the polls.
To tell people to ignore this civic responsibility is not a form of activism. It's irresponsible.