ELECTION 2008: The Finish Line

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Are you freaking out as much as we all are? It seems like this election has been going on FOREVER and now, finally, we are at the end of the race. A nervous anticipation grips our country as the world eagerly waits to learn who will be the next President of the United States. International leaders have even weighed in, for the most part enormously in favor of the leading presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

However, everything is not about hope and change in this election. There are some seriously dirty politics at play here, from robo-calls to voter suppression; our communities are being targeted by those who would rather silence our opinions than allow them to be accounted for at the ballot box. We already told you about the attempts being made to deter Latinos from voting in New Mexico, but it seems these techniques have spread to other key Western states where the Latino vote just might determine who takes a seat in the Oval office come January.

Now, it is more important than ever that Latinos get out there and exercise our most fundamental constitutional right and responsibility! As we head into the final countdown, be sure to keep yourself informed, because after all— knowledge is power. Here's our last minute election round up of news you need to know:

Latino Voters May hold the Key for Presidential Election in Western Swing States.

If Barack Obama wins this presidential election, a lot of attention will be paid to the (hopefully) huge turn out among young and African American voters. But in a lot of key swing states where a win for Obama could be a final nail in the coffin of the McCain campaign, Latinos have been turning out in droves to support the Democratic Senator from Illinois. New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada figure prominently in this scheme and Obama's popularity among Latinos in those states has given him an edge that is making many Republicans panic. This signifies a huge turn around for the Obama camp who lost the Latino vote to Clinton during the primary elections by a landslide. Obama’s campaign faced an uphill battle when it came to wooing the Latino vote for the general election. Some insisted Latinos were hesitant to vote for a Black president, while others pointed to the fact that McCain had repeatedly bucked the Republican party trend of zero tolerance for illegal immigrants, even going so far as to co-sponsor the Dream Act back in 2006. However, when the bill came up in the Senate, McCain voted against the very piece of legislation he had sponsored. This apparently, has not been forgotten by many Latinos, especially those in the South West.

According to the latest polls by NBC/Wall Street, Obama now holds a commanding lead among Hispanics with 67% favoring Obama compared to 30% who support McCain. If Obama manages to nab 65% of the Latino vote tomorrow, this could very well clinch the key battleground states of Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada—in turn, making it that much more difficult for McCain to find a way to accumulate the 270 electoral votes the candidates need to win the election.

From Venezuela to Brazil, all of Latin America seems to have an opinion on who should win the election.

Hugo Chavez, who always refers to Obama as the "Black Man" indicated to international Spanish language newspaper El Pais, that he'd be open to re-establishing a relationship with the Unites States should Obama win. While we find it a bit odd that Hugo consistently refers to Obama by his race and never by his name, at least the socialist leader has finally shown some positive support for something going on in US Politics.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has refused to out and out endorse either candidate but had this to say about the historic nature of the election, "I'm just giving a personal opinion because it's obviously up to the American people and is a sovereign decision," da Silva began, "But I think that, in all the world, there is a little bit of happiness. In the silent minds of each one of us, how good it will be if a black is elected president of the United States."

He also noted that an Obama victory would be a continuation of a trend of unlikely upsets happening all over the Americas in recent elections, "Just as Brazil elected a metal worker, Bolivia elected an Indian, and Paraguay a bishop, I think that it would be an extraordinary thing if, in the largest economy in the world, a black were elected president of the United States."

Obama is much more popular among Latin American citizens than McCain as well, although Mac can count one Latin American leader as an ally. Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia and long-time Bush crony sharply criticized Obama for daring to suggest that the U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement is not beneficial to workers in Colombia, who are routinely punished and attacked for unionizing or organizing for workers rights.

Latinos at higher risk of being tricked by voter suppression tricks occurring in New Mexico, Colorado and other important swing states.

If you or anyone you know believes they have been a victim of voter suppression and/or voter intimidation tactics, please call 1-866 OUR VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or visit www.866ourvote.org and fill out their online form.

What has turned out to be the scariest election news we have seen in the last few weeks seems to be blossoming into a growing trend targeting Latino communities. As mentioned previously, a Republican party lawyer had been sending a private investigator to the houses of Latino in New Mexico and demanding to see documents and telling them that may be ineligible to vote. In the last 48 hours, efforts have been ramped up in an effort to intimidate and mislead voters living in predominantly African American and Latino communities.

The AP reports that over the weekend, fliers were circulating in Virginia, stating that since voter turnout was expected to be so high, the state had decided to hold two elections, one on Tuesday for Republicans and one on Wednesday for Democrats. In Pennsylvania, emails have been circulating attempting to link Barack Obama to the holocaust, warning Jewish voters that they, "Cannot afford to make a wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4th." While Latinos in Nevada have reported receiving phone calls from people falsely claiming to be Obama supporters and urging them to vote over the phone, which is not a viable option for voting anywhere in the USA.

The reason for all this intimidation? The fact that the Obama campaign has registered millions of new voters, mostly young, mostly of color, and mostly strongly in support of the Illinois senator. Laughlin McDonald, of the ACLU Voting Rights project says, "I have never scene an election where there was more interest and more voter turnout, and more effort to suppress voter registration and turnout."

If you or anyone you know believes they have been a victim of voter suppression and/or voter intimidation tactics, please call 1-866 OUR VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or visit www.866ourvote.org and fill out their online form.

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About this author1

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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