Latinos and voter ID

One of the arguments against the photo ID ballot question in Minnesota this week was that requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls would have the effect of keeping many minorities from voting.

We’ve been doing reporting in a number of outstate cities that have substantial Latino populations so I wondered how the vote went in areas with large numbers of Mexican and other immigrants. It’s not clear how many Latinos in these areas are registered voters, but I was thinking of the community as a whole, not just Latino voters.

I could conjure up two theories. One was that sizable Latino populations would heighten concern about voter suppression and prompt voters in those cities to reject the amendment. The other was that the presence of large immigrant communities in once largely white areas might compel resentful white voters to support the amendment.

I don’t find much support for either notion in the numbers.

Worthington, which has the greatest concentration of Latino residents in the state — 35 percent — voted strongly in favor of the amendment. Most precincts recorded close to 60 percent “yes” votes.

But just up Highway 60, where more than a quarter of residents in St. James and Madelia are Latino, voters rejected the amendment. Each was in the low 40s for percentage of “yes” votes.

If you look around the state at other cities with significant concentrations of Latino residents you get similarly ambiguous results. Willmar was slightly against the amendment. So were Le Center and Gaylord. Long Prairie, Melrose and Pelican Rapids voted in favor. All are in the top 10 outstate cites when it comes to percentage of Latino residents.

Voters in those cities uniformly supported Mitt Romney for president and they favored the marriage amendment that was also on the ballot.

So, frankly, I’m not sure what these voter ID results mean. Maybe nothing, other than the conclusion that factors other than race made the difference.

In that vein, check out this comparison between the photo ID and marriage amendment results. Why did the Minnesota River Valley, the far northwest and the extreme southeast vote against the photo ID amendment when similar demographic territory in central Minnesota, southwestern and western Minnesota voted yes?

amendment maps.jpg

Compare the voter ID map with this map of the state House races. It makes you wonder whether the people that defeated the voter ID amendment brought you the DFL Legislature, at least outstate.

Elex House 2012.jpg

What’s your idea?

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