Latino Voter Registration Results

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One Arizona, a non-partisan coalition of nine diverse non-profit organizations throughout Arizona, has results of its voter outreach campaign launched in 2010. Francisco Heredia, spokesperson for One Arizona, discusses Latino voter turnout in the midterm election.

José Cardenas: There's a Latino Voters campaign launched last year show that the sleeping giant is finally awake. With me to talk about the results from the midterm election is, Francisco Heredia, spokesperson for One Arizona, a nonpartisan coalition of nine diverse nonprofit organizations in Arizona. Francisco, welcome back to "Horizonte." You were on the show before. I think just before and I think even right after the elections.

Francisco Heredia: Yes.

José Cardenas: But you have some new information. Item us about it.

Francisco Heredia: Definitely. Before I start with that information, I just want to briefly explain One Arizona. It's a coalition of nonprofit organizations across the state that we came together for the purpose of increasing the civic participation activity within the Latino community. So our work was to make sure individuals were becoming citizens, if they were eligible, registering to vote, registering on the primarily voting list and then coming out to vote. So those were our overarching goals we had in our campaign. And the work that we did last year as far as the coalition and the concept of coalition is nothing new to the organizations that do this type of work in Arizona. But the way that we did it in this coalition is something of a game changer and --

José Cardenas: In what sense?

Francisco Heredia: In how we were strategic in our approaches and how we came together, put aside our differences, and where in the past, especially in the Latino community coalitions have fallen apart because of the specific interests and specific differences that we have. And we can't get past that. So we came together, put aside our differences. We collectively fundraised throughout the nation and here in this state. We had one database to work with. So we input data as we, in real time, as we worked, as we door knocked, as we called individuals. And we came together to, for the purpose of increasing Latino civic participation.

José Cardenas: How much money did you raise for this effort?

Francisco Heredia: We raised just over $1 million for this coalition to, that went into door knocking, that went into phone program, that went into mail program. And other organizers that we had on the ground to talk to Latinos and about the importance of coming out to vote.

José Cardenas: You were focused on Latinos who fit a particular profile.

Francisco Heredia: Yes. Our strategic approach, I want to emphasize this, we targeted low propensity Latino voters. These are infrequent voters and how we define low propensity, people that voted in either 2006 or 2008, but not both. And also new registrants from past the deadline of 2008. So past the presidential race in 2008. So those were the categories that we defined low propensity Latino voters and the impact that we had through our outreach, our targeted outreach through this population of folks that were-- 234,000 across the state was exceptional. We knew that while we were door knocking and while we were doing phone calls, that we were doing something different. And that we were having an impact. But these results really show the tremendous work that everybody in the coalition accomplished last year.

José Cardenas: Let's talk about those specific results. You mentioned 234,000. That was your, the group you were focused on.

Francisco Heredia: Yes.

José Cardenas: How many of those actually turned out to vote?

Francisco Heredia: Out of those 234,000, 90,000, just over 90,000 of them came out to vote last year.

José Cardenas: And those are 90,000 people who likely would not have voted in this midterm election?
Francisco Heredia: Yes. Again, low propensity Latino voters. Those were individuals that we believe wouldn't have come out to vote because no political party, no candidates were really targeting these voters. Usually in those campaigns, they target more propensity, higher propensity voters.

José Cardenas: It's not worth their money to go after these people?

Francisco Heredia: Yes. We took that strategic approach and really emphasized our outreach and those individuals so we can boost up the Latino participation in this state.

José Cardenas: How much did the pure turmoil, the chaos surrounding SB 1070 help in your efforts?

Francisco Heredia: It was one of the driving points. We used, we talked about SB 1070 when we were at the door and at the phone and gauged people's support or if they were against. And really individuals, Latinos especially, came out between 70 to 80% against SB 1070 when we were talking to them. And it motivated a lot of them to get involved and really come out and register and register on the primary voting list and come out to vote. It was a motivating factor for a lot of Latinos last year. And keeps on being a motivating factor as we are seeing this anti-immigrant, anti-Latino legislation keep keeping going on here in this state. So it's something that we have noted last year, and that we keep on continuing our outreach so the Latinos are engaging so we can have more of a representative voice here in this state and change things how things are going on here.

José Cardenas: And I do want to talk about what this means going forward and what kind of efforts you are making but while the numbers are impressive, 90,000 people probably wouldn't have voted, what practical impact did this have last year? You would think most of those people, I realize it's a nonpartisan effort.

Francisco Heredia: Yes.

José Cardenas: But especially if SB 1070 was an issue, presumably most of these people would have voted Democratic and yet the Democrats had their head handed to them in this election. This election produced the most conservative state lurch we have had -- legislature we have had. Democrats lost at the Federal elections in Arizona. So what happened?

Francisco Heredia: Well, again, I want to emphasize it was a nonpartisan effort. Voter education, making sure Latinos are participating in the civic process of this country and this state. And just -- we feel that the lack of interesting candidates and the lack of resources being put in the Latino community for not just last year. We just made a small dent and it's working for us. And the results show that if you have a targeted approach, that you will have results to show for it. But because of the lack of resources being put in Latinos for voter registration and for citizenship drives and other items, we still have a gap to fill and we still have a lot of work to do in the future for Latinos to have this political force and political power that can sway elections. So that's some of the thinking that we have thought about as far as the election results. Of course, we didn't see, again, being nonpartisan but we didn't see any successes, but the work that we did last year really shows when we have the right approach, the right messaging and the how many times we contacted folks, really shows the impact that we can have. So it will show that if you put in money to Latino communities, to increase voter, civic participation efforts, you will have results. But we haven't seen the resources being put and the time being put. We as a coalition, we are several nonprofits in the coalition but we can't do it all ourselves.

José Cardenas: So if you had to do it over again, and taking into account the factors you mentioned, you didn't have the strong candidates, certainly at the top of the state ticket, what would you do differently?

Francisco Heredia: I think we, it was a short amount of time. We had this campaign for five months. And for the future, we're constantly planning on doing these activities even earlier for next year. We are working this year on the local elections in Phoenix and Tucson to continue the outreach and continue the importance of voting not only in the midterm or presidential years but in the local elections. So starting early, continue the outreach to Latinos is vital in making sure they understand the process of elections. So that's the continue education that we have as organizations and as a coalition that we are continuing our work and learning every day as we talk to individuals at the door and the phones on what issues they care about and really providing that information on how the process works in this state.

José Cardenas: We have got your website, web address on the screen but what are you doing for the local elections? You mentioned Phoenix and Tucson. You are talking about the Mayoral elections and in Phoenix that's nonpartisan. I don't know if it's the same in Tucson. Is it?

Francisco Heredia: No. It's a partisan race but our work is concentrated on nonpartisan efforts, signing up individuals on the early voting list. Similar strategies that we used last year. Of course, the resources, all the resources that we had last year are not there.

José Cardenas: And the issue isn't there, either. Because SB 1070, immigration was an issue in the state and Federal elections. Really not an issue for these Mayoral campaigns, is it?

Francisco Heredia: No. It's not. But we're taking the pulse of the community, asking folks what issues they care about at the doors. And then going after individuals to sign up on the primary early voting list, it's a strategy we will keep on using because it's an efficient strategy. We had over 56% of the 90,000 individuals last year vote by mail. And it will increase each year as they get their ballot at home and vote with their family and those kind of things. So in the local elections, we are keeping our focus on door knocking and calling people on the phone, sending them some mailers, traditional campaign activities, and making sure they get the necessary information to come out and vote because of the different voting, city of Phoenix has voting centers that will be coming up in August. The city of Tucson is all mail. So there's different election styles. There are happening in these cities.

José Cardenas: On this note we are out of time.

Francisco Heredia: Perfect.

José Cardenas: Francisco Heredia, one Arizona, thank you for joining us.

José Cardenas: That is it for us tonight. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Francisco Heredia: One Arizona;

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