Latinx voters could swing the election

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Nonpartisan organizations are finding creative ways to encourage Latinx folks to vote.
Patsy Montesinos, UNC Media Hub
Posted

Through sunshine or rain, nonpartisan organizations are finding creative ways to encourage Latinx folks to vote by throwing “fiestas para votar,” or voting parties. 

Poder NC Action partnered with the Hispanic Liaison and Voto Latino NC-Chatham to host one such event Siler City last Sunday, and they’ve led similar efforts in Durham, Charlotte, and Raleigh. The events offer voters a Day of the Dead altar, free tacos, shirts, pins, and non-partisan voter information. Poder NC Action leader Tavon Bridges said this year especially, they’ve had to get creative. 

“We're trying to provide a service and make sure that we're a resource that pushes folks to vote and vote safely, comfortably, and have a little fun,” Bridges said.

Janet Pulido, a Voto Latino Chatham volunteer, said it’s essential now more than ever for her community to show up.

“I think it's really important for Latinos to go out and vote because we need to speak up,” she said. “We need our voices to be heard.”

Early voter turnout among Latinx voters has more than doubled this year, and in North Carolina, that number continues to climb. Because North Carolina is a purple state, Latinx voters could swing this election one way or the other.

Nearly 500,000 Latinx voters younger than 30 have voted in the U.S. — and about 65% of them are voting for the first time. Because of this, Pulido said Latinx people are still facing challenges when casting their ballots. 

“I feel like language barrier has been a big issue,” she said. “Some people don't know English, and also a lot of people just feel scared. This is their first time doing it. They've never done anything like this before, and they just feel like they don't fit in with the people around them.”

That’s why DACA volunteer Victoria Navarro brings her daughter to these kinds of events — to expose her to the voting process at a young age.

“I want her to grow up, knowing how important and how privileged she is to have the right to vote And never really take that as for granted,” she said, “because obviously, my entire family and I, you know, would wish we could vote.”

Navarro came to the United States from Mexico when she was three years old. As a DACA beneficiary, she is unable to vote, but she still finds ways to participate in the election — like coming to the polls and teaching young Latinx voters the value of their votes.

“For me, it's almost like being able to participate and be part of the process,” she said. “You know, I know, at this point, those of us with DACA are pretty much in limbo with what comes next.”

While she awaits an official decision about her status as a Dreamer, she still holds onto to her hope that one day she will be able to cast her own ballot.

“So I think that when the day comes," Navarro said, "(when) I am able to vote, I am going to be very proud to do that for this country."

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