Iowa Hispanic population could impact upcoming election - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Iowa Hispanic population could impact upcoming election

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Iowa's Latino population could play a larger role in this upcoming election. The Hispanic population in Iowa increased 84 percent from 2000 to 2010 to more than 151,000.

Aurora Torres is the owner of El Patron Family Mexican Restaurant. She says Hispanic U.S. citizens want to vote but face obstacles.

"I think a lot of them are scared maybe to vote or even know where to go or what to do in order to vote. So, I think that's a lack of communication that we have to get out there and let them know where to vote, who to get in contact with, and what they have to do to vote," Torres said.

At Wartburg College, Thursday was Constitution Day. As part of the events, a discussion was held in regards to the lawsuit against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Shultz brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Shultz, a Republican, approved two emergency rules to challenge the registration of voters if their names were similar to those on state and federal lists of foreign nationals.

The ACLU and LULAC requested an injunction against those rules. Those against the rules believe they are being used to keep Latinos from voting.

The 2008 presidential race was decided in Iowa by around 150,000 votes. This year the League of Latino United Citizens is hoping to increase the voter turnout for Latinos by 50,000.

"I never realized how many Hispanics actually live in Waterloo. You don't see them as much. Most of the time they're working, but when they do get together on Sundays you would be amazed how many Hispanics there are in Waterloo. I never thought there were so many," Torres said.

Other swing states are dealing with a similar situation. The Hispanic population has risen to about 8 percent in North Carolina and Virginia. Ohio's Latino population is 3.1 percent, but has grown by 63 percent since 2000.

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