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Latino, immigrant community may have played large role in election

For many legal citizens who have immigrated from another country or who are the children of immigrants, there are at least two responsibilities that they try to abide by regularly: send money home to their families, and vote on Election Day – one of the benefits of life as an official citizen of the U.S.

While millions of people voted nationwide November 6, the actual voter turnout was down slightly from 2008. Based on preliminary numbers, approximately 132 million people went to the polls to vote for their elected officials, representing approximately 60 percent of the nation. If these numbers are accurate, it would mean that between 3 million and 4 million fewer people took part in the 2012 election than four years earlier.

Latino voter registration swells
According to the Washington Post, Latino voter registration increased by nearly 18,100 in Clark County, Nevada, one of the most densely Latino-populated counties in the U.S.

While much of the voter registration numbers may have derived from their enthusiasm for the candidates who were running, it may have also stemmed from ballot initiatives like the Dream Act. Maryland was one of the states in which ballot items included the Dream Act, which is a law that would allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition, enabling to go to college and earn a degree.

Meanwhile, in states like Florida, the Latino vote was strong there as well. Also reported by the Washington Post, exit polling numbers show that 18 percent of the state's voters were of Hispanic heritage. In 2008, this percentage was closer to 15 percent.

As for immigrants in particular, some have suggested that they don't account for a significant number of the people who vote in any given election. However, a recent study from the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration suggests otherwise.

Previous election results reveal why every vote counts
For example, in 2004, naturalized citizens represented about 4 percent of the voting-age citizen population. As CSII points out, this number is rather significant when one considers that the margin of victory for George W. Bush was 2.6 percent in Nevada, which at the time recently naturalized immigrants represented about 5 percent of the voting age population.

Of course, President Barack Obama won the election this time around, doing so after securing 303 electoral votes, though he needed only 270 to be re-elected. And while many of the immigrants who voted align with both the Republican and Democratic Party, Democratic representatives believe that Obama can thank the immigrant community for being able to serve another four years as commander in chief.

People like U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, who serves as a congressman from Illinois. According to politics blog The Hill, a political news website, Gutierrez said that the election was a "game-changer," and as a result, he believes Obama and members of Congress will be more willing to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

In an interview with Iowa's leading newspaper the Des Moines Register a few weeks prior to the election, Obama indicated this would be a key component of his second term as president. In the interview, Obama said that he was "confident" immigration reform would be done as soon as next year.

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