May 31st, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Former attorney general: Economic policies will discourage Hispanics, not voter ID laws

Editor's note:  Alberto R. Gonzales is the former U.S. attorney general and counsel to President George W. Bush. He is currently the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law at Belmont University, and counsel at the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden.

By Alberto R. Gonzales, Special to CNN

The right to vote is a precious privilege.

It provides the opportunity for every citizen to equally affect the future of our government no matter their last name, ZIP code or skin color.

It was my job as attorney general to protect the sanctity of every vote.

Based on my experience, voter identification laws serve as an effective deterrent to fraudulent voting.

I know there are concerns that such laws discourage voting and hurt minorities.

NAACP president: Voter ID requirements are like Jim Crow voter oppression laws

However, we should not abandon our efforts against voter fraud.

Instead, those concerns are best addressed by vigorous enforcement of existing federal regulations and laws, such as the Voting Rights Act, which provide protections against government actions that adversely affect the voting rights of minorities.

I condemn laws that discriminate based on race, and I support reasonable voter identification laws.

At the end of the day, I want to see more Americans voting, and states able to easily facilitate the right to vote.

The Hispanic vote is important in this election and future elections, and from my view, it is not voter ID laws that will prevent them from voting for President Barack Obama but his economic policies.

I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood where families took care of their own and believed government assistance was only for the most needy - those who could not help themselves.

We were poor but not helpless, We viewed ourselves as proud, self-reliant Americans.

Just like my parents, many Hispanic families today are struggling just to buy food and gas and pay the rent.

Their focus is not yet on the presidential race because they have real concerns that are more pressing.

For this reason, I do not think the polls accurately reflect Hispanic support for Obama and believe that support will drop as we approach the election.

Despite what the polls may say, many of my Hispanic friends –who are not politically active but identify as Republican or Democrat - privately confess their concerns about both men.

In Obama, they see a gifted president who is able to identify with their struggles and give voice to the powerless, someone who has lived the American dream they wish for themselves and their children.

They also see a man who broke his promise to them about immigration reform and someone who champions social policies at odds with religious teaching, such as his recent support for same-sex marriage.

As the election season approaches, more Hispanics will evaluate their economic situation and ask themselves whether they are better off than they were four years ago, and whether the president is capable of delivering on his promises and can be trusted to help them achieve their dreams.

This is potentially good news for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney because it means he still has time.

In Romney, Hispanics tell me they see a successful businessman and experienced chief executive who inspires hope with a positive message, someone who has created jobs and understands the details of economic policy. They see the kind of leader America needs in our current economic plight.

They also see a man who is rich and white, someone incapable of understanding what it is to struggle or to want, and unfamiliar with the pain of racial discrimination.

But it remains to be seen whether Romney can make a personal connection and convince Hispanic voters that he relates to their problems, cares about their future and can create an environment of opportunity for all Americans.

Gonzales says Romney must make personal connection to Hispanics

College students tell me they intend to support  Obama because they view him as a contemporary, someone who is cool and at ease with technology and late-night talk show hosts.

He is a role model and source of excitement.

Other students approaching graduation are not as supportive. They will soon enter the job market with few, if any, job prospects and staggering student debt.

For them, a successful businessman like Romney might succeed in creating jobs where the president has failed.

Hispanics are extraordinarily diverse, and the choice we make on Election Day will be a very personal one.

Like all voters, Hispanics will vote their self-interests and vote for their future.

That choice has the power to elect the next president.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alberto R. Gonzales.

soundoff (292 Responses)
  1. craniator

    If you want to vote Obama in for a second term , go right ahead – because the GOP will block every single thing he tries to do and we will remain in gridlock for four more years. He had his big chance to "remake America" and he blew it ; he and the Dems had a supermajority for nearly two years and showed they are not to be trusted. I understand that it's very , very difficult to admit you were wrong , but we need to start over . . . and those posters above who stated that the GOP has done more for Latinos than the Dems have are absolutely right. Stop cutting off your nose to spite your face , or you'll end up like the Black man in America – enslaved by the Welfare state with no way out except to wait for the next check in your mailbox.

    July 9, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Skeptical

    I don't trust Republicans to respect minorities, women, gays or anyone that opposes their theocratic fascism! Voter suppression is exactly what they are attempting to do now!

    July 9, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pablo

    As a first generation Latino immigrant in this wonderful country of ours and yes the best country in the world I am often insulted by our current president and his policies. Mr. President we Latinos don't need for you to give us a fish, what we like to learn is how to fish for ourselves so we can feed our families open a business and allow our next generations to contribute to the United States of America and the rest of the world.

    July 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jvalle

    Im hispanic, and from history you can see that Republicans have done more for hispanics than democrats. People need to read more than what the mainstream media is feeding you. CNN is biased as is Fox news. Ronald Reagan gave immigrants an amnesty, what has Obama done? NOTHING. He could have given immigrants the dream act when Congress was mostly democrat. I hope he gets out of office this November. And yes economic policies affect how everyone votes. Mexico has voter IDs to prevent fraud and why not here?! I prefer having IDs to prevent any corruption in the system. Im against amnesty by the way...there is set of laws that many people follow to stay in the US legally...they should follow those laws!

    July 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. get real

    Yeah right. Words matter. Romney is good for Hispanics when it comes to the economy. Like he said before, he will hire them to work in his yard once he is not running for President. You are right in that Hispanic's are not single-minded voters. However, they are not stupid. Simple question that is at that back of their mind is...ok the economy gets better, then what? The economy will get better, no matter who is President. Then their social agenda will kick. Don't be fooled.

    July 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      You sir are right!

      July 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stsystems

    A parting thought; The next time you're at a public gathering note what goup remains seated during our anthem, does not stand during the pledge, ou if the do stand will not hold thier hand over their heart to honor America...

    July 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Oh, that wouldn't be a race, that would be a political affiliation. Ultra-liberals of any race look down on our national anthem and any display of patriotism.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      For an example, mulatto liberal Barack Hussein Obama shows he doesn't like saying the pledge. They're the group that doesn't respect our anthem or our country.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jacob

    What a ridiculous essay. "They" tell you? Hispanics tell YOU? Do you know all of them? Stop it with your nonsense. Try journalism.

    July 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • stsystems

      Yes Jacob, I know a lots of them, go hang out in a barrio and listen, you might have to learn a little broken spanish but you'll be better informed...

      July 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. prosperid

    known facts:
    UFO sightings since 2000=47,000
    voter fraud= 13

    July 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WaKe up America

    Obama is an insult to most Latinos. He has to think that most are so dumb to fall for
    his " dangle carrot" in front of their face again when it comes to immigration. He's doing this to all the groups (youth, women, gays and Latinos). Blacks, he doesn't do anything for them because he knows he has their vote because he's black.

    July 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • etimo

      He has done better than d do nothing GOP 10x over. If d GOP policies was dat good, y did d economy go from supplous to deep recession. It was not just a deficit but deep recession. They not even giving voters an alternative or something new but d samething dat led to d depression. We r not dumb. That's wat d GOP spin thinks we are.

      July 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • You have lost your mind

      And what has the republican party done? Say what you want about president Obama, most of your rant is a out right lie and is the result of the plan of obstruction, loom, gloom and doom from the right wing hype machine but Romney is without shame, his integrity is less then zero. Line Romney up side by side with himself and he will just cancel himself out. Romney is the great big lie . . . period.

      July 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • stsystems

      You forget one thing , the "Blacks" are Americans! These include Hispanic Puerto Rican, Cuban, and non-US american continent Blacks... When will you start thiknig like an American rather then a Mexican alien?

      July 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tim

        How did they act like a Mexican alien at all? The truth is 95% of blacks voted for him last time because of his race. That's the truth, he's confident they'll do it again. So they try to pander to anyone they think they can get. Duh.

        July 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tim

        Non-US American continent blacks? They aren't citizens if they're not from here or a territory of ours. Want to give them an amnesty or something?
        They're plenty of illegal Hispanics, but there's others that come here legally and follow our laws. That's the kind to get, not anybody who shouldn't be here.

        July 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eilau

    Let's face it, the reason the border stays open year after year and decade after decade is because the millions of third-world immigrants pouring into the U.S. vote overwhelmingly Democrat . Were the reverse, true, the DNC would have sealed the border decades ago.The Marxists and haters of everything European-American, including the rule of law are salivating over the transformation of the U.S. into a crowded third-world dive with the new crowd mooching off the carcass of a prior civilization. All the political nuance over the issue is just camouflage for the White haters running the DNC and La Rasa.

    July 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. trex

    FIRST, I AM WHITE, 3rd gen Italian. My family has NEVER taken welfare or go on any type of "relief". I think the gop in a slightly vieled effort, has successfully manipulated the voting process to eliminate HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, IF NOT MILLIONS OF CITIZENS FROM VOTING. These citizens are OBVIOUSLY,considered by the t/p gop as THE UNDER CLASS AND SHOULD NOT VOTE. THIS IS WRONG WRONG WRONG. ...I hope the COURTS do the RIGHT THING and throw these restrictve JIM CROW laws OUT...........with the racists, KKK, and other mo rons

    July 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • stsystems

      Be cool, you're not quite "white" every since Hannibal raped and pilaged southern France and northern Italy but you do make an excellent example of a excellent group of Americans who have infused themselves into the American fabric without losing thier proud heritage. Why can't the so-called mex-ican assimulate the same way... By the way they also think theyre "white" but not by my book!

      July 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tim

        You're praising the liberal who goes hysterical over voter ID laws? Gee, who's side are you on? Libs are messing up the country. Liberals are not productive in our society, they're the epitome of not contributing anything good. I'd say like Pelosi or Mussolini they'd be a bad example of an Italian, because Italians do have a proud and admirable history.

        July 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snowmen29

    I agree somewhat here but here it is simple who really sees it, who understands your situation more n relates. As for president Obama broke his promise, horse manure! You can't keep a promise if the other side is only trying to get u to break your promise! Anything to get u to fail mentality! That's not Obamas fault he's black. Let's all be Americana first n not in a party. Hey im all for helping each other out making sure its an even playing field! Are u?

    July 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maria Carvalho

    Mr. Gonzalez is still confusing facts and fiction. Where did he get that piece of information, may I ask? Republicans think that their spin and distortions become gospel truths just because they happen to say so. Mr. gonzalez, ID laws keep all kinds of people from voting: whites, blacks, Hispanics, seniors, the unemployed and any one that does not fit your view of the world.
    I'm an educated Hispanic, please do not insult our intelligence

    July 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lizzie

      If voter ID keeps anyone from voting then they don't know the first thing about their patriotic duty to vote. The lame excuse that the poor the elderly don't have ID is a farce, you need a ID to apply for government assistance. As for Mexicans not voting, bullsh.... the majority of Americans of Hispanic decent is against illegals voting or even being here, but I do question your intellegence.

      July 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
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