Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Juego Cambio

Yes, I know we've been talking quite a bit sobre El Voto Latino. But really, there's no way to overstate la importancia de la comunidad. And starting today, we will be seeing more evidence of Latino turnout.

Political pundits, campaign organizers and national magazines have declared 2012 the year of the Hispanic voter. Voter registration numbers and enthusiasm is up, and now all of those who invested in the wake-up call for this once-dormant demographic want to make sure it does not hit the snooze button on Election Day.

“I worked registering voters in 2008 and 2010, and I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm this year,” [Izack] Tenorio [of Mi Familia Vota] said. “There are a lot of groups on the ground in Nevada encouraging Hispanics to get involved, and I’ve seen whole families come into our offices to all register together. I think people are starting to embrace their role and the choice they can participate in. Now, we just have to make sure they take that final step of getting to the polls.”

Mi Familia Vota came into this election cycle with the goal of registering 11,000 voters in Nevada. A few months in, the organization met that benchmark and set another one. That one was broken, too. More than 19,000 voters, the vast majority of them Hispanics, were registered, said Leo Murrieta, state director for Mi Familia Vota.

In a nationwide poll, Latino Decisions found that 8 percent of Hispanic voters had voted early as of Oct. 29 and 87 percent of Hispanic voters said they were “almost certain” to vote. Also, 45 percent of the demographic said they were more excited to vote this year than in 2008, when 84 percent of registered Hispanics voted. Notably, the percentage of Hispanics who said they were certain to vote and more enthusiastic than in 2008 have both increased in the weeks leading up to the election.

Many more Latino voters have been registered this year. But now, the real test comes. How many will vote?

Some already have. But as I hinted on Monday, we'll see a real "game change" moment today when more early voting sites open in Latin@ heavy East Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. For these final three days of early voting, the Clark County Election Department will be covering these neighborhoods much more thoroughly than we've seen for the previous 11 days.

So now, it truly is all about turnout. And since early voting is often the best (and sometimes the ONLY) way to get people to vote, these next 60 hours will be critical. And it may all come down to how crowded the Cardenas Market at Lamb & Bonanza becomes today (and tomorrow and Friday).

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