Hispanics Represent Small Portion of Arkansas Voters

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas may be home to one of the nation's fastest-growing Hispanic populations, but that group likely won't find the political muscle to flex in next year's presidential election.  That's according to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The study shows Hispanic voters represented only 1.3 percent of voters in Arkansas during the 2006 gubernatorial race.  That percentage may only slightly creep up next year, as more than half of the nation's Hispanics are foreign-born and nearly a third are under 18.

The study estimates that Arkansas has about 35,000 registered Hispanic voters, representating about 1.7 percent of the state's total voter poll.  Across the state, northwest Arkansas' congressional district has the largest Hispanic population of the district.

However, the study estimates only a fourth of that population is eligible to vote in a district home to poultry plants and other jobs attracting immigrants from Mexico and Latin America.

Still, Carlos Cervantes of the League of United Latin American Citizens says his group will hold voter registration drives, for legal residents only, for next year's elections.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)