Please note the following column was translated from Spanish to English and is available for reprint as long as the author is given proper credit. The column is available online in Spanish here.
If the presidential candidacy of Republican nominee Donald Trump has generated anything, it’s more than the anger of Latino voters due to his constant insults. The campaign has also provoked the cohesion of community groups working together to educate registered and eligible voters about the importance of voting on November 8th and what is at stake this election.
Together they hope to knock on 900,000 doors of potential voters.
Upon commemorating National Voter Registration Day this past Tuesday, coalitions and member groups did not wait for the campaigns or political parties to invest in voter registration and mobilization. They were making those investments themselves.
Francisco Morales is Nevada Director for the Center for Community Change Action, one of the groups that forms the Immigrant Voters Win coalition, which also includes Nevada’s Voice, PLAN Action, and the Culinary Union Local 226.
These groups work alongside other coalitions, and Morales said that between October 22nd and Election Day on November 8th, they will have knocked more than 900,000 doors in Nevada in order to promote voter registration and civic participation.
“Latinos in Nevada are going to vote, and they will do so in historic numbers. One of the challenges we’re finding is that people need to understand the importance of voting down the ballot for candidates in other offices not just the presidential race, because even if we elect a president who supports the immigrant community, we still need a Congress that will work with the president to finally approve immigration reform,” Morales said.
He added that another challenge they come across when going door to door or making phone calls is that voters think their vote won’t matter, because nothing has changed, and, for example, immigration reform still hasn’t become a reality.
“That’s the attitude we are trying to change – people who will not go out and vote, because they think nothing has changed. We have to remind them what a Trump presidency could represent,” added Morales.
Artie Blanco, Nevada state director of For Our Future and For Our Future Action Fund, points out that the cohesion among groups working together this electoral cycle is simply unprecedented.
However, Blanco admits that despite Trump’s abysmal approval ratings among Latinos, many Hispanic voters and potential voters still believe that Trump has no chance of winning and many think that their vote won’t make a difference.
“Some people can’t believe that he [Trump] is seriously a threat right now and it’s very dangerous because these are folks that still question the importance of their vote. People still think he [Trump] can’t win, and we have to tell them, yes it’s possible”, added Blanco.
But an army of volunteers and activists are taking to the streets of Nevada to reach the largest possible number of potential voters. Their attitudes show their effort:
Jocelyn Sida, Mi Familia Vota: “People tell us that the reason they are registering to vote is that they no longer want to stay silent, they want to make a change in the community for their children, they are thinking about the future.”
Grace Vergara, SEIU: “We’re bringing to a head this campaign to register voters so that citizens can vote, because that’s the only way our voice gets counted.”
Maurice Forbes, NextGen Climate: “Millennial voters are leading the narrative this election and we are focusing on registering even more in order to defend the policies we care about and that affect us.”
Adriana Arevalo, NextGen Climate: “We hope this voter registration drive matches the expectations of our communities. The country is heading toward a political change from the ground up.”
Viridiana Vidal, Nevada’s Voice: “We Hispanics are an electoral force, we do have a voice in this country and we can change the destiny of the United States.”
Alexander Zapata, PLAN Action: “This election is going to move a large number of voters to action, that’s why the vote is so fundamental and it’s so important that citizens who have the right to vote do so.”
Alejandro Estrada, volunteer for Immigrant Voters Win: “The people who have the ability to vote have to do so because if they do nothing, if they do not show up to vote, they will bring sadness on all of us.”
Maribel Hastings is Senior Advisor for America’s Voice and David Torres is Spanish Media Advisor for America’s Voice.