If eligible legal permanent residents (LPRs) or green card holders were already U.S. citizens and if they registered to vote at the same rate as other naturalized citizens, counties across the nation would see their voter registration rolls jump dramatically.

That’s the consensus from the American Immigration Council, which recently released a report titled “Citizenship Day 2012: Realizing the Potential of the Immigrant Vote.” The AIC report, which comes less than two months before the Nov. 6 elections, should wake up the millions of procrastinating green card holders across the country who are eligible to become citizens but don’t.

According to AIC, they number more than 8 million, making the latent electoral power of these voters-in-waiting enormous. Nationally, there are some 207,643,594 eligible voters in the U.S., compared to the estimated population of 303,824,640.

Using naturalization data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the AIC determined that if LPRs who came to the U.S. after 1985 were naturalized and registered to vote in the 3,114 counties in the United States, excluding Alaska, their numbers would have been large enough to change the result of the margin of victory or loss of the historic 2008 election. They would also boost the numbers of registered voters in Los Angeles County, Calif., by 442,000 and by 147,000 and 123,000, respectively, in Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Kings County, N.Y., home to thousands of Caribbean migrants.

Both parties need to pay attention to this data and ensure they take the immigrant voting bloc more seriously. It’s not enough to flip-flop, especially on the issue of immigration reform, or make promises that are not kept while deporting millions of immigrants.

Of note also is the unrealized electoral potential of the children of immigrants. In California, 47 percent of U.S. citizens under the age of 18 had an immigrant parent in 2010, while more than 30 percent did in Nevada, Texas, New York and New Jersey, according to the report. This makes the power of the combined immigrant bloc–those eligible to register and their children–enormously powerful.

So far, data shows that immigrant voter registration has increased over the past few election cycles, from 24 percent in 1996 to 27 percent in 2008. If those eligible to naturalize do register and vote, this figure would undoubtedly increase drastically.

It is time for all immigrants who are eligible to become citizens of the U.S. to do so and take advantage of the right to vote–if not for themselves, then for their immigrant children not born here. The rules of immigration are becoming tougher daily. A single small crime could land an LPR or their non-U.S. citizen children back in the homeland they left behind. This alone should encourage those eligible to naturalize and take advantage of the power being a U.S. citizen allows, especially the power to vote for those who support your issues and the issues of your community.

For at the end of the day, all politics is local, and all politics impacts our lives. Let’s obtain and use the power of our vote before we lose it.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.