WASHINGTON: A coalition of nonprofit Hispanic groups and Spanish-language media companies have launched a campaign to encourage as many as 1 million naturalized Latino citizens to register to vote in 2008.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), the Mi Familia Vota Educational Fund, and the National Council of La Raza have organized in-house grassroots efforts at sporting and other community events.
Entravision Communications, ImpreMedia, and Univision Communications have also pitched in, running free PSAs and "how-to" programming slated to run in print, radio, and TV outlets owned by the companies.
"ÁYa es Hora, ve y vota!" ("It's Time, Go Vote!"), as the campaign is called, is an extension of an effort the coalition organized last year to get an estimated 1 million legal permanent residents to become naturalized citizens.
"We're trying to work off the success of [that] campaign using these same media partners and nonprofits organizations," noted NALEO Washington office director William Ramos. "Right now there are 9.3 million registered Latino voters, which is about six percent of the voting population. In 2006, about 7.5 million registered Latinos went to vote, the largest number ever."
No particular candidates or parties are being promoted through the campaign, which is focused on 11 key states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, New York, and Texas. Rather, by boosting the number of voters, candidates of all the parties will be more likely to appreciate and cultivate the Latino voter.
"In this instance, what we want to do is influence the campaign of the presidential candidates, so that they have to listen and respond to the needs of the Latino community," Ramos said. "We're not a monolithic community in terms of where we stand on issues or who we vote for."
Combined, the media companies participating in the campaign reach 99% of US Latino homes, according to the coalition. Besides media outreach and "in the field" efforts to organize Latino voters, the campaign will also support a toll-free hotline and campaign Web site, www.veyvota.org.