Activists Pledge to Raise Hispanic Turnout

By Jonathan Zhou
Jonathan Zhou
Jonathan Zhou
Jonathan Zhou is a tech reporter who has written about drones, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.
July 8, 2014 Updated: July 8, 2014

NEW YORK—Latino activist groups unveiled their strategy to boost Hispanic turnout in the mid-term elections and expedite immigration reform at the 85th annual National Convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

The goal of the project is to mobilize Hispanic voters all over the United States to put pressure on members of congress who don’t support immigration reform.

One project is the creation of a report card for all 435 members of congress, who will be graded from A to F depending on their support for immigration reform.

“It’s focused on the House because the Senate already passed the [Senate bill] 744,” said Sindy Benavides, a civic director at LULAC. “Have they been public about supporting immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship?”

The U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill in 2013 that offers a path to citizenship for the more than 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. The bill is being held up in the House of Representatives in what has been called a political gridlock.

The report is scheduled to be published in late July, with joint fanfare from several major Latino activist groups including LULAC, The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and the Hispanic Federation.

The timing of the report card will give members of Congress time to adjust their stance on immigration during the month long recess in August.

“We’re asking our communities to meet with their members of congress so they understand that maybe on top of getting an F, they need to move on this issue because it matters to their constituents,” Benavides continued.

Low Turnout

Latino voters are the fastest growing electorate in America, with 800,000 Latino Americans turning 18 every year. However, Latino turnout is lower than that of other major ethnic groups.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 48 percent of eligible Hispanic voters turned out in the 2012 presidential election. The same election saw a 67 percent turnout among blacks and 64 percent turnout among whites.

“We need to instill the responsibility in making sure your neighborhood turns out, to make sure you can fight for resources for your neighborhood, your community, ” said Jose Davila, vice president of the Hispanic Federation.

“We will not tolerate further gridlock,” he continued, “We need Washington to act on immigration reform.”

LULAC plans to have 1,000 volunteers reach out to eligible Latino voters in 22 states to urge them to vote in the mid-term elections. Their goal is to register at least 50,000 new voters, see the turnout rise by 100,000 votes, and reach at least a quarter of a million eligible voters in a public education campaign.

The LCLAA and the Hispanic Federation are also involved in the project.

“We are in every Latino neighborhood knocking on doors, doing [Get Out To Vote], to make sure in this mid-term the Latino vote comes out in historic numbers,” said Hector Sanchez, an LCLAA director.

The turnout project will target eligible voters not only in areas with high concentrations of Hispanics, like California and Texas, but also states like Iowa and Ohio, said Brent Wilkes, LULAC executive director.

“Whether they championed immigration reform, did nothing, or blocked legislation, the members in the House will have to face the fact that their political fate is in the hands of the ethnic and immigrant communities,” Wilkes said in a statement.

Jonathan Zhou is a tech reporter who has written about drones, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.