Effort Launched To Increase Hispanic Voter Rolls

Latinos in the U.S. make up more that 10 percent of the nation's eligible voters. In Texas it's almost 4.5 million.

Houston is home to many naturalized citizens from South American countries, but UH student Sylvia Chicas with the Central American Resource Center, says many of them are not registered to vote.

"We are launching our campaign, which is called YO VOTO, YO DECIDO. The Central American community is the lowest in voter turnout in the Hispanic community, so what we're trying to do is, we're trying to mobilize our base and get people to the polls."

According to a new report, demands for proof of citizenship and photo ID requirements in other states could keep many of them away from the ballot box.

Here in Texas, a voter registration card is the only requirement.

Yolanda Black-Navarro is with LEAD, Latinas Enhancing Advocacy and Development. She says it's always a challenge to convince Hispanics to register.

"We try to tell them how important that each vote makes a difference, and that there are issues that have come up before that I think targets them that says,  yes we need it because of immigration, yes we need because of the janitor's strike, yes we need it because women should have fair wages, yes we need it. So I do believe that there  is a change in the shift, and a lot of the Latino community that generally did not vote in the past to vote now."

Many groups will be busy this weekend and next, involved with early voting initiatives at local churches. Voter registration tables will be set up, trying to increase Latino turnout. Sylvia Gonzalez with LULAC, League Of United Latin American Citizens, says Hispanic voters have the biggest gap to make up in voter registration:

"It's very important that people come out and vote. All the voting organizations have gotten together. Mi Familia Vota, CRECEN, FIEL, The G.I. Forum, The Greater Houston Coalition are trying to spearhead this to let the people know, their vote is very important. A lot of people think their vote's not gonna make a difference but on the contrary, it can make the difference. It can tie the vote, it can break the vote."

According to NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, more than 12 million Latino voters are expected to cast ballots on Election Day, an increase of 26-percent from 2008.

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