Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Barnes Wants Hispanics Counted, Voting

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Barnes Wants Hispanics Counted, Voting

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Gov. Roy Barnes is joining with Hispanic leaders in backing a drive to register members of Georgia's fastest-growing minority community to vote.

Barnes also announced yesterday that advertising and outreach campaigns will be developed to make sure Latino and inner-city black Georgians who were missed in the 1990 census get counted next year.

The governor estimated the state lost at least $1 billion this decade in federal funding and possibly a congressional seat because those communities were not fully accounted for by census takers in 1990.

"It's not going to happen like before. We were not counted," said Sora McFarlane, a Venezuela native who is heading up the Georgia Hispanic Voter Registration Campaign.

Barnes' motives are not entirely politically altruistic. Hispanics will be the country's largest minority group in a few years, with more than 1 million projected to be living in Georgia in a little more than a decade.

Non-Cuban Hispanics have historically supported Democrats like Barnes, although Spanish-speaking Republican Gov. George W. Bush of Texas is making a big push to capture the Latino vote in the 2000 presidential election.

Barnes acknowledged Democrats are likely to benefit from the registration efforts.

"I don't think I'm registering a bunch of Republicans," Barnes told reporters in announcing his support for the voter drive.

Georgia's Hispanic population is estimated at 475,000, a figure expected to double within 10 years.

Two of the nation's six counties with the fastest-growing Hispanic populations are in Georgia.

"It can no longer be denied that the faces of our economy and our people are changing in this state," the governor said. "More than ever, it is critical the Latino community become actively involved in the process."

Barnes said he also planned to form a legislative Hispanic forum to help create a legislative agenda for Latinos.

A few Hispanic candidates have run for state legislative offices in the past, but with little success. …

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