The wave of mobilizations for the death of African-American George Floyd and President Donald Trump’s performance, in this case, has led to groups mobilizing the Latino vote registering a “huge increase in registrations” in recent days, in a push that could change the face of the November elections.
The national organization Mi Familia Vota registered 3,000 new voters online in the last week in states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas, and attributes it to the protests and mobilizations provoked by Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, which has sparked a wave of protests around the country, its executive director, Hector Sanchez Barba, told Efe.
Other groups such as Voto Latino and Rock the Vote have also reported increased voter registration, particularly in states where the presidential race is tight between Trump and defiant Democrat, former Vice President Joe Biden.
FLOYD, THE TRIGGER FOR THE SURGE IN VOTERS
Sanchez Barba told Efe that the unacceptable violence “that is being taught from the White House” affects all minority communities. “An attack on one is an attack on all of us,” the activist said.
María Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino, told CNBC that her group has already surpassed the June goal with the registration of 50,000 young people.
“There are many ways to get involved in ending police brutality and racist policies. Make sure you vote for leaders who listen to us and care about the safety and lives of Black and brown communities,” the organization states on its website.
Carolyn DeWitt, executive director of Rock the Vote, also told CNBC that their platform has recorded “historic results” with 50,000 new voters in a single week, attracted by ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
These are young people who are looking for profound changes in government and who, according to the executive, are motivated by the protests and digital campaigns that have come to replace the door-to-door traditions due to the incidence of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have had to reinvent ourselves in order to move forward in our task and also to try to get rid of the obstacles that we are facing,” said Sanchez Barba, whose organization seeks to get votes to prevent Donald Trump’s reelection and has had to adapt its campaign to the limitations imposed by COVID-19.
THE WEIGHT OF SOCIAL NETWORKS
The key to this fight is social networks because the quarantine imposed since March by COVID-19 has prevented the fieldwork of organizations that register voters among young people and new citizens.
“At naturalization ceremonies, at least twice a month, we always had a captive audience and the opportunity to conduct personal registrations,” Juliana Cabrales, of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund, told Efe.
Without the possibility of face-to-face work, this organization has launched an online portal to do the registrations, although it admits that there are still limitations such as the impossibility of serving those interested in Spanish.
NALEO’s work is nonpartisan, Cabrales said, and it tries to encourage the Hispanic community’s participation in the civic process, regardless of who they vote for.
Young people reaching voting age are being targeted because they are the best candidates to take advantage of new digital strategies, she said.
Emily Kirkland of One Arizona told Efe that the coalition has been using online contacts and phone text messages to reach prospective voters since May, and the result has been “a huge increase in registrations.
“In the first few weeks there were five to 10 responses a day, and now there are 100 and growing,” he said.
The ads have targeted young people and people of color, and it’s still too early to tell if Latinos are driving the renewed interest in voting, but in Kirkland’s opinion, in a tumultuous year like the present one, “we’re confident that we can sustain the energy beyond the election to bring about the profound social changes that everyone is calling for.
Maribel Hastings, director of America’s Voice en español, told Efe that young people are the face of the demonstrations, which would suggest that the leadership and momentum they have shown should be turned into effective participation in the upcoming elections.
But for a change in leadership, she recalled a phrase from former Democratic President Barack Obama: “Don’t boo, vote.
According to Dorian Caal, NALEO’s director of research on civic participation, there are about 30 million Latinos eligible to vote in November, a record number that is very difficult to translate into effective participation at the polls.
“The gap between those eligible and those who register and vote is very large,” he told Efe.
In any case, he said that historical moments like the ones we are living in could make a direct connection between civic mobilizations and the vote.