Los Angeles, California – The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) and the CHIRLA Action Fund have tasked themselves with educating California voters on propositions that will appear on the ballot on November 6th, and ensuring that people vote and that they do it for candidates who are looking out for their best interests.
They expect to reach 216,000 low propensity voters: Latinos, immigrants, women, and African Americans in one of the districts where they’re operating.
This organization, which has spent decades working for immigrants rights, leaves nothing to chance, and uses its two hats, CHIRLA, as a non-partisan group (C3), and CHIRLA Action Fund, to lead political efforts (C4), in order to inform voters, and also to urge them to support or reject certain candidates.
Diana Colín is Director of Civic Engagement for CHIRLA and also Program Director of the CHIRLA Action Fund.
Under the C3 program they inform voters about the propositions that will appear on the ballot this year, two of them in particular: they ask for a Yes vote on Proposition 10, which allows local governments to place rent control restrictions; and a No vote to Proposition 5, a property tax transfer initiative.
“We are making calls to 34 counties and knocking on doors in 38 regions,” explains Colín.
“The two organizations are under the Immigrant Voter Power Project and the idea is to reach 216,000 voters that no party and no candidate is making any effort to reach out to,” she says.
The CHIRLA Action Fund targets low propensity voters in three congressional districts: District 21, where they are asking for a vote against Republican Congressman David Valadao; District 25, where they are asking for a vote in favor of the Democrat Katie Hill; and District 39, where they are asking for a vote in favor of Democrat Gil Cisneros.
“We want to talk to these voters between four and seven times, in different ways to make sure they go out and vote,” says Colín. This campaign also consists of phone calls and door to door visits.
“Nationally, people never pay attention to California because it is blue and a Democrat will win [in the general election]. But you have to explain to people that their representatives in Congress are Republicans who are voting against you as an immigrant, against women, students, the LGBTQ community, and we have the opportunity to remove them [from office],” she adds.
“The other thing that is exciting Latino voters is that [state senator] Kevin de León is on the ballot. People see someone like them, like their family, who resembles us, who speaks our language, who comes from where we come from,” says Colín. De León is challenging incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking reelection for a fifth term in the Senate.
“Candidates and parties are not investing in Latino voters or immigrant voters, they believe they do not vote or do not vote often enough. They think that they have to spend a lot of money to get them out to vote and they prefer to invest that money in television commercials. And we know that these TV commercials only confuse our community who needs to be called on the phone, to knock on their doors and explain the process. It’s a matter of gaining their trust. That it’’s more difficult than just placing a commercial on the TV, but we take on the challenge of doing the hard work,” adds Colín.
For example, she explains, at the state level “of the people who we registered to vote in California [in the November 2016 elections], 72% went out to vote. But of those who we contacted and spoke directly with them, 84% went to vote in November 2016, which means that talking to these people four to seven times works. “
In fact, she says, “talking to them in their language works.”
And to talk to them, CHIRLA and the CHIRLA Action Fund operate a call center from their headquarters in Los Angeles, where Soila Rodríguez is in charge.
We visited the call center last Wednesday and it was at capacity.
“We are 30 to 31 people and we work daily for eight hours. We are talking to 2 thousand people on a daily basis,” says Rodríguez.
“We started on September 10 and will continue to make calls until November 6, the day of the elections,” she concluded.