Plan to register Puerto Ricans to vote in swing states
By Clifford Cunningham Monday, April 30, 2018
Puerto Rico’s governor is moving against President Donald Trump by forming an organization to register Puerto Ricans living in swing states to vote – joining other far-left groups like La Raza looking to do the same.
Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló, a Democrat, was in Florida last week to announce the formation of “Poder Puerto Rico,” a supposedly nonpartisan organization that aims to register displaced Puerto Ricans living in swing states to vote to “give a political voice to those living in a state of powerlessness” on the island.
As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico sends one non-voting delegate to Congress and its residents do not vote in presidential elections.
“I recognize that the situation of Puerto Rico is hard to explain. I mean, we’re talking about a colonial territory in the 21st century, the oldest, most populated colonial territory in the world, and it is under the biggest democracy in the world,” Rosselló said.
“The call is to every Puerto Rican to be electorally active in the United States,” he added.
After arriving in the United States and establishing residency, Puerto Ricans who register will immediately become eligible to vote, provided they don’t change their address.
In Florida alone, officials estimate that as many as 385,000 Puerto Ricans could establish residency by the end of the year, a significant number that could impact upcoming elections for Senate and Governor, as well as presidential elections going forward.
Puerto Rico’s governor is not the only one looking to register Puerto Ricans to vote as part of a concerted effort to tip the balance of power in swing states.
The National Council of La Raza, which recently rebranded itself as UnidosUS, has established field offices in central and southern Florida with plans to register 50,000 Puerto Ricans by the midterm election in November.
“The trend down here over the past 10 years or so is that all of these races are very tight. So you don’t need a large number of people to sway an election,” said Jared Nordlund, a senior strategist at UnidosUS, in an interview with Yahoo News. “You can swing an election with 20,000 people. It’s going to have an impact.”
In addition, the billionaire Koch Brothers founded The LIBRE Institute, which provides “Welcome to Florida” classes aimed at newly arrived Puerto Ricans, as well as English classes, job-hunting skills, and a pitch to promote “free-market” principles.
Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist and the former Florida manager for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, warned national Democrats that relying on demographic changes is not enough to win elections.
“I think there’s a false sense among people in my party that all these demographic things that play out well for my side organically turn into wins,” he said. “One of the flags that I’ve been raising for six months now is that, whether it’s a huge delta or a smaller delta, there still a gap between the number of people that have come here after Maria that are going to stay and the people that have registered to vote.”