By Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN) – More Latinos will be eligible to vote in November's election than at any other time in American history, but getting them to the polls will provide campaigns a challenge, according to a report released Monday.
The Pew Hispanic Center report indicated 23.7 million Latinos are eligible to vote November 6, meaning they are U.S. citizens over the age of 18. That's an increase of 22% since 2008, when there were 19.5 million Latinos in America who met the country's voting requirements.
While both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have aggressively courted Latino voters, the turnout rate for the group in 2008 – 50% - was lower than that of black voters (65%) and white voters (66%).
And the decrease in voter registration between the 2008 election and the 2010 for Latinos was sharp – 600,000 fewer Latinos registered to vote in the midterm elections than they did for the presidential contest two years earlier.
The Pew report suggests two factors that could have led to the decrease over two years: reduced enthusiasm for a non-presidential election, and an economic downturn that has displaced many Latinos (and subsequently caused their voter registration to lapse).
Whether or not the downward trend from 2010 continues this year remains to be seen, since national data on voter registration isn't available until after the election.
However, four individual states that have published information on voter sign-ups show an increase in Latino registration since 2008. In Florida, a key battleground with 29 electoral votes at stake, 1.6 million Latinos had registered to vote by the middle of July, an increase over the 1.4 million Latinos who registered to vote in the Sunshine State in 2008.
North Carolina, another battleground, also reports an increase in Latino registered voters since 2008 – 102,000, compared to 68,000 who registered four years ago.
Editor's note: Meg Urry is the Israel Munson professor of physics and astronomy and chairwoman of the department of physics at Yale University, where she is the director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.
By Meg Urry, Special to CNN
(CNN) – In 2001, I became the first tenured female faculty member ever in Yale's physics department. Throughout my 30 years as a physicist, being the only woman in the room has been the norm. Women fill more than half of the jobs in the U.S. economy but constitute fewer than 12% of working physicists and engineers. For me and for others in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the dearth of women is not news.
Evidence shows that established scientists at top research universities - those choosing and training the next generation of STEM experts - unconsciously rate budding female scientists lower than men with identical credentials. They judge women less capable, less worthy of hiring and less deserving of mentoring. And they propose starting salaries that are on average 14% higher for men than for women.
The new study is the first to be done on STEM faculty rather than, as is more typical, college undergraduates. Hundreds of earlier studies on undergraduates established that the name on a résumé affects our perceptions. And that women and men both act with unconscious bias to privilege those who already dominate a specific field of work, whether that means preferring a man's résumé for a job in physics or a woman's for a job in nursing.
By Josh Levs, CNN
(CNN) – California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning therapy aimed at turning gay kids straight, saying such efforts "will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."
"This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide," Brown tweeted.
The California Senate passed the bill in May. It will kick in on January 1.
The bill prohibits efforts to change the sexual orientation of patients under age 18.
The American Psychiatric Association says the potential risk of so-called "reparative therapy" is great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. Therapists' alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce the self-hatred already felt by patients, the association says.
"The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation," the association says.
After the bill passed the state Senate, Equality California spokeswoman Rebekah Orr praised the "right first step in making sure that young people are protected from these unscrupulous therapists who are really engaging in therapeutic deception that is based on junk science."
Equality California describes itself as the largest statewide advocacy group in California working for "full equality" for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
But the president of an organization that promotes reparative therapy, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, called the bill "another triumph of political activism over objective science."FULL STORY
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette, Jr., CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) – We start with the obvious question: Why do the media, political observers and presidential campaigns spend so much time talking about the Latino vote?
Many Americans resent the implication that some votes are more important or have more impact than others. (No one is saying that's the case.)
Still, why don't we talk with equal enthusiasm about voting by African-Americans or white evangelicals or left-handed senior citizens who live in Rhode Island?
Here are four reasons:
1. The number of Hispanic voters has been increasing steadily – by 2 million since the last presidential election.An estimated 12 million Latinos are expected to cast ballots in November, up from 10 million in 2008. That could account for as much as 10% of the total number of ballots cast across all demographic groups.
2. Latino voters live in swing states that pick presidents.They are a major presence in four battlegrounds: Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. While they are also a force in blue states such as California and New York and red states such as Texas and Arizona, their real influence is in the purple states.