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Texas

Groups Push to Mobilize Texas' Latino Voters Before Election Day

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A number of national groups have announced efforts to get eligible Latinos to the polls on Election Day 2014.

Just about every politician and political group views Latino voters as the key to future success at the ballot box. Local, state and even several national groups are trying to mobilize Latinos across Texas this year, but will it work?

Texas is home to roughly 10 million Latinos, but their turnout in Texas ranks among the lowest in the U.S. In 2012, about 60 percent of eligible Latinos did not vote.

"Particularly with regards to Texas, we are very hopeful that Latinos are going to come out," says Carlos Duarte, a state regional director with Mi Familia Vota in Texas. It announced this week it’s partnering with a number of groups – including the Texas Organizing Project and the National Council of La Raza on Latino voter turnout events through Election Day on Nov. 4. The focus is on Houston, Dallas and San Antonio and events include phone banks, block walking and registration drives at libraries, community colleges and high schools.

"We do know that in 2010, in Texas in particularly, there were 1 million Latinos that came out, and NALEO projected there’s going to be 1,218,000 -- which is a 20 percent increase," Duarte says about this election.

Sylvia Manzano, a principal at the consulting firm Latino Decisions, questions whether those goals can be met with less than 2 months left before Election Day.

"One of the things that distinguishes Hispanic voters in the state of Texas is that they’re vastly under mobilized," Manzano says. "That the parties and campaigns don’t spend the money, don’t devote resources to doing very much outreach with Latino voters." [Read PDF of Latino Decisions' Texas Report here.]

Since Republicans took control of Texas politics two decades ago, the state hasn’t had many competitive elections, so candidates haven’t spent as much on ads in Texas as they have in swing states because of the expensive media market here.

But some candidates have released TV ads in Spanish, like Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Van de Putte’s ad started running earlier this month. Abbott aired his first Spanish TV ad during the Mexico-Brazil match of the World Cup.

Carlos Duarte of Mi Familia Vota in Texas is glad to see any ads airing in the state.

"We are tired of the Latino community being ignored and any effort or investment in talking to our community is welcome," he says.

Latino Decisions estimates about 3 million Latinos in Texas are eligible to vote but haven't yet registered. The last day to register to vote for the November election is Oct. 6.

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