At a press conference with a musical flair, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill stood with the largest class of Latino legislators ever to announce that Hispanic representation has hit an all-time high but at the same time the state apparently lost 19,000 Latino voters.
Merrill said more than 22,000 new Latino voters registered to vote in 2012 alone. Of the new voters, more than 10,528 registered as Democrats, 1,325 registered as Republicans, and 10,169 registered as unaffiliated voters.
Overall, Secretary Merrill is reporting that there are more than 157,000 registered voters of Hispanic origin in Connecticut – representing nearly 8% of all registered voters in the state. What’s puzzling is Merrill reported back in October that there were 176,000 registered Latinos representing 9% of all registered voters. Her office said the 11% drop shouldn’t be perceived as unusual.
Av Harris, her spokesperson said in an email, ” We measure active registered voters, so it could be that as the voter rolls were cleaned up [by local Registrars of Voters] prior to the November election there were people moved from active to inactive status, which could affect the count. It is fairly common for voters to be moved from active to inactive status – happens all the time. We were just taking a snapshot of the picture of Hispanic registered voters in Connecticut.”
State Rep. Angel Arce (D-Hartford) was among the Latino legislators in the building celebrating the presence of 11 Hispanic state representatives and two state senators. It is the first time there have been any Latino state senators. He said, “I came her in 1967. I was just a little kid, and I saw, witnessed and lived the struggle back then of the Puerto Ricans in this city. I am very proud to stand here next to our Puerto Rican mayor. From where we were in the 60s to where we are now, seeing 12 Hispanic representatives here in this building is an honor — it’s an accomplishment to see that our people are very well represented.”
Arce said, regardless of voter totals, “There’s one thing that I’m going to say. A lot of people say Latinos don’t vote. Well they’re wrong. If they don’t like you, they don’t like the work you do, they will vote you out. That’s for sure.”
Freshman state Rep. Hilda Santiago (D-Meriden) said Latinos have to take advantage of their increasing political power and actually get these registered voters to the polls. “Door-knock. Take them to the polls. Baby-sit if you have to, to make sure that they come out to vote,” she said.
Freshmen state Sen. Art Linares (R-Middletown) added a little humor to the proceedings when he said, ” “I think we’ve broken a world record for the number of Hispanics in the [legislative office building].”
These are the Top 10 cities and towns with numbers of Latino registered voters:
- Bridgeport: 20,839
- Hartford: 18,575
- Waterbury: 13,999
- New Haven: 11,481
- New Britain: 9,520
- Meriden: 6,712
- East Hartford: 4,462
- Stamford: 4,359
- Norwalk: 3,651
- Danbury: 3,302
Photo by Wayne Jebian
Below is a video of the musical entertainment that was part of the news conference: