In three days, more than 1,100 organizations will gear up to register voters in what is being referred to as “National Voter Registration Day.”
Next Tuesday, volunteers will “hit the streets” to encourage all around mobilization across the country on September 25.
The turning point for many elected officials will be the number of voters who will show up at the polls and a lot of expectation is being placed on Latino turnout. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials predicted 12.2 million Latinos would go out and vote.
“The idea is to really bring attention to people getting involved civically,” said Jessica Reeves, Voto Latino’s partnership director. She added that using voter registration is the first step in getting involved in the political process.
“We want to remind everybody that it’s a right, not a privilege,” she said.
For several months organizations such as Voto Latino, League of Latin American Citizens, and civil rights groups like the National Council of La Raza, have ramped up their efforts with voter registration drives. NCLR registered an estimated 65,000 voters through September 11. LULAC in partnership with two other organizations registered 30,000, according to their estimate in August.
The deadlines to register voters are also approaching. In most states, the deadline falls in October. Three of the battleground states where Latinos are expected to be decisive for the presidential fall include Nevada, Oct. 16; Florida, Oct. 9; and Colorado, Oct. 9.
Yet, there’s still the question of voter apathy. Organizations are also facing hurdles with funding and legislation considered suppressive. Since 2011 at least 180 restrictive bills were introduced in 41 states, according to a report released by the Brennan Center for Justice.
“There’s a lot of changes in voter ID laws that I think are confusing for people,” said Reeves. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”
Within these three states there is also a range of acceptable identifications. In Florida, there are nine forms of acceptable IDs including student identification, passport, debit or credit card, driver’s licenses, etc. In Colorado, there are 17 different forms that are acceptable, excluding a Social Security Card.
In Nevada there are four including any other form of identification issued by a governmental agency, which contains the voter’s signature and physical description or picture.
The Brennan Center found that 25 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Latinos do not own government issued photo IDs.
Reeves added that there are also changes being passed in several states, which make it hard for voters to keep up. In California, she cited that there is a law that allows online voting.
“It’s hard for a lot of people and Latinos to keep up with all the changes, if they’re not paying attention,” she said.
That’s also a major reason why Voto Latino has spent time and energy on educational initiatives and partnering with celebrities such Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera. The purpose of voter registration day is to inform individuals of the steps they need to take to prepare for Election Day.
Voto Latino will be promoting two big events in Los Angeles and New York where they will be going to college campuses to rally supporters. In New York, they will be partnering with a popular hip-hop radio program Hot 97.
They’re aiming to each register 100 voters for that day, which would push the projection to more than 50,000.
The biggest drawback is motivation.
“Nobody has ever asked them to participate in an election or nobody has really taken the time to explain things,” Reeves said. ”I think people become disinterested—then even when things don’t happen quickly or the way that they want—they become disillusioned that their vote doesn’t matter.”
“I think it’s about seeing things through.”