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ICYMI: USA Today Story Highlights that Nevada Latinos are Energized, Set to Play Pivotal Role

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new story in USA Today examines the critical role Nevada’s Latino voters will play in this election, finding that the combination of the nativism of Donald Trump, the presence of pro-immigrant Latina Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto, and the hard work of groups, organizers and activists on the ground is helping to energize this pivotal electorate with big implications for November.

Read below for key excerpts from Bill Theobald’s story, “Trump, Latino candidates could energize Latino voters in Nevada this year,” or click here for full version online at USA Today’s website:

“The Republican Party’s presidential candidate refers to Mexicans as rapists and wants to build a wall along the entire southern border.

The Democratic candidate for Senate in Nevada is Catherine Cortez Masto, a Latina whose grandfather came to the U.S. from Chihuahua, Mexico. And a Democratic House candidate is Ruben Kihuen, who came to the U.S. at age 8 from Guadalajara, Mexico.

The stage couldn’t be better set for the state’s Hispanic voters to once and for all flex their power at the polls.

…Last week, crowded into a bare room in a nondescript Las Vegas office building, a small army of more than 50 canvassers got marching orders on how to boost Latino turnout numbers and turn the presidential and Senate races in Nevada in favor of Democrats.

This particular effort, paid for by the Immigrant Voters Win Political Action Committee, has been going on since August. Now working six days a week, the canvassers have knocked on 120,000 doors, said Francisco Morales, state director for Center for Community Change Action.

About 10 canvassers are doing the same work in the Reno area, with similar efforts ongoing in Colorado and Florida.

It’s a sophisticated, high-tech enterprise. Each canvasser gets a computer tablet loaded with the names and addresses of Latinos and Asians who are potential voters. When the canvassers go to their neighborhoods, supervisors can track their movements because each tablet is equipped with GPS.

The information gathered on site is automatically entered into a master file. People are urged to fill out pledge cards vowing to vote. The cards will be mailed back to them and workers will follow up to make sure they do vote. A mass texting system, successfully used by the Bernie Sanders’ campaign, will also be used.

…it’s just one component of the Latino registration and get-out-the-vote effort in the state.

Besides Morales’ Center for Community Change Action, three other groups — Nevada’s Voice, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, and PLAN (Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada) Action Fund — are doing their own work under a coalition called the Immigrant Voter Project.

By Election Day, these groups hope to knock on more than 900,000 doors in Nevada to promote registration and turnout.

…Eric Herzik, political scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the simple lack of history of voting can be the biggest impediment to crossing into the voting booth for the first time.

“They are a little shy about voting,” said Herzik. He added lower income and education levels and the fact that Nevada Latinos are relatively young all contribute to lower turnout.

A November 2012 Census Bureau survey found that the top reason cited by Hispanics for not voting was being too busy or having a scheduling conflict (23%), followed by a lack of interest (15%) and illness or disability (11.5%).

That may be changing. A national tracking poll of Latino registered voters released Monday by Latino Decisions, a public opinion research firm, found that 51% of those surveyed were more enthusiastic about voting this year — 11 percentage points higher than at the same time in 2012. In addition, 83% said it was “very important” to vote this year.”