Latino Voting Efforts

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Leticia de la Vara, Director for ONE Arizona, discusses what is happening with Latino voting efforts in Arizona.

José Cardenas: One of time magazine's latest issues featured several Latino voters from Arizona highlighting the group's expected influence on the upcoming presidential election. With me to talk about Latino voting efforts in Arizona is Leticia de la Vara, director of One Arizona. Welcome back to "Horizonte." You have been on the show before. What's changed in the past couple of years with respect to Latino voting?

Leticia de la Vara: The initial piece was 1070. That motivate the folks to get out and realize that if they wanted to be represented, they need to make sure they were out there voting. So over the last two years, one Arizona and quite a few folks have been out mobilizing voters, mobilizing the Latino community to understand that if they don't do anything, we can expect this legislation to continue. So over the last two years we have done a coordinated effort to register folks, to explain what the process is, to explain how they can be involved, and to make sure they show up and vote.

Ted Simons: Have we seen results?

Leticia de la Vara: We have seen tremendous results over two years. One Arizona started in 2010 specifically to coordinate various groups who were doing their own field work out across the state. So we coalesced our efforts and coalesced our resources so we could reach the broadest amount of Latinos in the state. In 2010 where we did our first efforts we saw 90,000 new low propensity Latino voters turn out to vote. We saw that again in 2011, when we went out to register folks for the Phoenix municipal election. We saw, for a municipal election which is basically council members and mayors, not a very exciting election, it's not a presidential year or a governor's year, we saw another, I believe it was over 30,000 or 29,000 votes cast that had never been cast before. Latinos in Arizona are noticing what's going on and realizing that the most effective way to make a change that they want to see, to make a change that will make Arizona feel proud again, is to get out and vote.

José Cardenas: And do you think that message, the greater number of Latinos voting, is getting through to the established parties?

Leticia de la Vara: We sure hope it is. Definitely, when you see a coordinated effort, these are not just Latinos who are going to vote anyways. These are targeted efforts to make sure that those who have typically said, voting doesn't matter to me, that they realize voting does matter. If they don't show up things will change. We do know when we make a concerted effort to get out and knock on these doors and explain why it matters that they do show up. These folks have been ignored and are saying I want to be part of the process.

José Cardenas: And the focus as I understand is not so much on voter registration, though that's an important part but getting people already registered out to polls because they are low propensity to vote.

Leticia de la Vara: We try make sure every single person we register to vote and even those we see when we put our list together, folks who have registered or never turned out to vote, we go out and let them know there is an opportunity for them to receive their ballot in the mail. We want to, for voting to be a family affair. We want for people to sit around the kitchen table and talk about why they are voting, with their children, why the candidates matter to them so that civic engagement is a part of the Latino experience. We know that if we, if we have a chance to kind of look at the ballot for a month, digest it, learn about the different candidates, learn about the different measures, that we can make an informed decision. So that's really why we are trying to push, not that they just see it but realize, I live in a predominantly Latino community. I know my polling place changes. If I have the luxury of getting my ballot at home and I don't have to find out where am I supposed to go vote this time it's different from last time.

José Cardenas: It will make a difference.

Leticia de la Vara: It makes a difference.

José Cardenas: And on that note we have to end the interview. Thank you so much for joining us.

Leticia de la Vara: Thank you.

José Cardenas: That is our show for tonight. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I am José Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Leticia de la Vara:Director, ONE Arizona;

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