Latino organizations ramp up efforts to get Latinos to the polls
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- For many latino organizations nationwide, Arizona has become ground zero in the debate over immigration laws. So it's no surprise that Tucson became one of the stops on the Toda A Votas or Let's Vote tour.
It's a civic duty that Maria Tapia has tried to instill in her children and grandchildren after she became a United States citizen 35 years ago. She told KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos, in Spanish, that she voted every election and has taught her children who are now all adults to vote as well.
It's the reason she and a small group of latinos attended this latest voter registration rally at the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center.
"It's critical that latinos vote. This election is about us," said one of the speakers at the rally. It's a message that's reverberated throughout latino communities across the nation for several years, yet has not built enough strength in numbers in each passing election.
The goal is straightforward -- register 650-thousand latino voters and turn out 12 million latinos on election day, which could tip the scales to influence policy agenda. Francisco Heredia of Mi Familia Vota said, "However, they turn out, Democratic or Republican, we want to bring the information to them to ensure that they become an informed voter and they vote for what they think is the best for their community."
Travelling with the group is the Secretary Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, Eliseo Medina from Washington D.C. He believes once latinos can flex their political muscle, the conversations, primarily within Republican circles, will change. "I think the platform does not reflect what I think the issues are that matter to the community. We hope through this tour that we get the Republicans party to really think about what relationships they have with the latino community."
He says the top issues that matter to latinos -- immigration reform, jobs and education. "Because if they think we don't vote, we don't matter. Well, I do think we do matter. And I think our issues matter and that's what we're saying to our community don't waste the power of your vote."
The Let's Vote campaign is also headed to Colorado, Texas and Florida. The tour is sponsored by several latino advocacy organizations, including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council of La Raza.