Latino voters have long been considered a key demographic in the 2012 Presidential Election, and are turning out in large numbers to vote on Tuesday.In Las Vegas, where get-out-the vote efforts have been heavy, Latino voters had a strong showing for early voting:

At the small but bustling Nevada headquarters of Mi Familia Vota, a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote organization with offices in the shadow of the Vegas strip, Nevada state director Leo Murrieta eyed data that he said reflected months of effort. Latino voter registration was up by more than 18,067 people, to 120,547, in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, since the 2008 presidential election.

Early voting numbers were up in Clark County too — by 11,894. Overall, the voters tilted heavily Democratic — with 65 percent identifying themselves that way, compared to 16.5 percent signing up as Republicans and nearly 18 percent registering as nonpartisan.

“This is the year we’re paying attention,” he said. “This is the year we’re ready to participate. All that’s left is election day.”

The group had 75 staff and volunteers in Las Vegas working phone banks and knocking on doors across the city, reminding people of their assigned polling places and helping with logistics, including rides. Twenty others were working similarly in the Reno area.

All would keep going, Murrieta said, “until the bell rings.”

Tuesday morning, Latino voters in Maryland showed their support for the state’s Dream Act, Robert Barnes wrote:

In Washington’s Maryland suburbs, Latino voters turned out in force to support the state’s Dream Act, which would qualify illegal immigrants in the state to pay in-state college tuition.

“God gives us this freedom to contribute to change,” said Francisco Javier Mercado, 42, a Salvadoran immigrant who was voting for the first time. “As a citizen, I feel for the thousands of young people who came here looking for opportunity and have difficulties affording a college education.”

Exit polls in Florida show a more Hispanic voter turnout than in 2008, according to Rachel Weiner:

Highlights from Florida exit polls. Again, these are subject to change and should be taken with a grain of salt. 

* Hispanics make up 17 percent of voters; they were 15 percent in 2008. Among all Hispanics, President Obama leads 60 to 39 percent. Among non-Cuban Hispanics, he leads Mitt Romney 68 to 32 percent. 

* Those numbers flip when you look at white voters, who make up 66 percent of the electorate. Obama is down 38 percent to 61 among whites. 

The number of Latino voters has increased over the years, according to Valerie Martinez-Ebers, who debunked the following myths about Latino votes for the Post:

At their recent national conventions, the Democratic and Republican parties featured high-profile Latino speakers: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinezand Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, among others. This effort reflected the growing influence of Hispanic politicians, as well as the parties’ need to appeal to Hispanic voters. But what motivates those Voters? There are countless misunderstandings about Latinos, their allegiances and their interests.

1. Latinos do not vote.

They do vote — and in increasing numbers. According to the Census Bureau’s most recent Current Population Survey Report, the number of Latino voters grew from less than 4 million in 1988 to 9.7 million in 2008. In 2012, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials expects at least 12.2 million Latinos to cast their votes, an increase of 26 percent over 2008. As a share of the total national electorate, Latinos have grown from 3.6 percent in 1988 to 7.4 percent in 2008, and they could be 9 percent of the voters in November.

Although only 55 percent of eligible Hispanic Americans are registered to vote, about 70 percent of those registered consistently turn out. Their impact is obvious in states such as California, which Latinos help make solidly Democratic, and Florida, without which no Republican can win the White House. And this November, the Latino vote will be pivotal in several battleground states such as Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and Virginia.

2. Latinos are social conservatives who should lean Republican.

Although Latinos are more conservative than many other groups in their views on same-sex marriage and abortion, these issues do not predict the party they affiliate with.

Nationally, Latinos identify more as Democrats than as Republicans by more than 3 to 1, according to the Pew Research Center. The Democratic advantage is even higher in states such as New York and New Jersey. And there are variations among Hispanic groups; this is not a monolithic voting bloc. Puerto Ricans identify more as Democrats than do Mexican Americans, for example.

Cuban Americans are the only group of Hispanic origin to prefer the Republican Party, though their attachment to the GOP is declining. For example, in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where approximately half of all Cuban Americans in the country reside, Republican identification among that group dropped from 68.5 percent in 2004 to 59 percent in 2008. Cuban American Republicans are more likely to say they are “pro-choice” and are more supportive of government-provided health care than Mexican American Democrats.