Less than a month before Election Day, voter organizations and the Obama team are spurring efforts to engage Latino voters before the deadlines for registration hit in several swing states.
The president is dividing his time this week to boost funds at an event in California. He is also officially dedicating the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, California on Monday.
The move comes days before the Tuesday deadline for voter registration takes place in 11 states including Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
So far, organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, National Council of La Raza and Voto Latino are using a combination of social media, personal contact and persuasion through door-to-door conversations.
Maria Echaveste, who served under President Bill Clinton’s administration and is a board director with Mi Familia Vota, said grassroots organizing is a lot harder to tackle than political ad spending, but it’s more effective.
“You need that personal touch,” she told VOXXI. Latino voters “want some acknowledgement that you understand who they are.”
Brent Wilkes, executive director of LULAC, said a lot of money has been spent on the legal cases regarding voter suppression and that has taken time and energy. He also indicated that the president isn’t partaking in aiding organizations such as LULAC.
“The second thing to look into when trying to assess what the turnout is going to look like is that president Obama himself isn’t actually a strong advocate of group organizations like us registering voters,” said Wilkes. “He’s focused more on raising money for his campaign so he can do the registrations for himself.”
He added that Obama’s team “has one of the biggest grassroots voter mobilization efforts in the history of political campaigning, much larger than in 2008.”
A couple of organizations including NCLR stated they have registered 65,000 voters. New America Media recently reported that a quarter of a million new Hispanic voters are estimated to be registered.
The president’s team is employing techniques that resonate with many Latinos including siding with labor organizers such as Dolores Huerta, Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union and Arturo Rodriguez of the United Farm Workers.
“Operation vote,” is the campaign’s signature initiative to mobilize voter turnout among key population groups such as Latinos. Since it’s launch in August of 2011, the campaign has hoped that by using micro strategies in each state, the initiative would eventually lead them to 270 electoral votes.
NALEO: A reminder for Latino voters
Aside from the presidential election, Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials said there is more to gain in terms of Hispanic political representation and that’s what they’re reminding voters.
“We’re also reminding voters that there is much more on the ballot than just the presidency on November 6,” Vargas told VOXXI. “You also have the first election since redistricting so there’s lots of opportunities for young candidates for state house races as well as a number of city councils and school boards.”
Medina told New America Media that for the first time, Latino voters are being courted intensely from both political parties. NALEO organizers also told the reporter that they ”still relied heavily on traditional get-out- the-vote methodologies, such as phone banks and door-to-door canvassing to reach Latinos of all age demographics.”
It’s a similar strategy the Obama campaign has employed.
“They need to campaign directly to Latino voters and there’s 30 days for them to do that and I think Latinos are paying attention now to this election,” Vargas said.
Voter registration deadline for Oct. 9:
- District of Columbia— postmarked 30 days before the election. You may also register in person on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residency. October 9, 2012 (by mail) and November 6, 2012 (in person).
- New Mexico
- Utah— postmarked 30 days before the election (by mail). Received 15 days before the election (in person and online) . October 9, 2012 (by mail) and October 22 (in person or online).