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Cleveland groups spur Latino voter turnout effort

By Kevin Milliken,
La Prensa Correspondent

 

Fresh off the May primary, a coalition of Cleveland-area groups will try to enlist the help of other Latino organizations to launch an effort aimed at improving Latino voter turnout in Cuyahoga County during the 2014 election cycle.

 

The “Es Nuestro Turno, It’s Our Turn” outreach project is a continuation of efforts to register Spanish-speaking Latino voters and encourage them to head to the polls. The initiative includes a follow-up effort to see if those voters actually cast ballots in order to measure its success.

 

“We will continue to work closely with the Spanish Language Advisory Board and look forward to expanding our efforts to educate Hispanic voters and encourage them to take part in elections as voters and poll workers,” Pat McDonald, director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections said in a recent press release.

 

The outreach project is a collaborative effort between the board of elections bilingual coordinator, other elections agency staff, volunteers from Latino community groups, and faith-based leaders who work within the Hispanic community.

 

For example, leaders within the faith-based community would recruit a church liaison and provide voter education training to those liaisons, which would, in turn, educate and register members of their congregation. In addition, voters would sign a voter tracking pledge card.

 

The Spanish Language Advisory Board of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is spearheading the effort. The Latino community has had a long-standing problem of very low turn-out in all elections. As a result, Latinos have minimized their influence in choosing their elected officials, especially among the Spanish-speaking community.

 

Organizers of the “Es Nuestro Turno” (It’s Our Turn) initiative are inviting community groups and activists to attend an informational meeting on Wed., May 21, 2014, 4 p.m., at El Barrio/ The Center for Families and Children, 5209 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland. The group is seeking volunteers to help spread the word about the effort. [See article on El Barrio on page 16 of La Prensa’s hardcopy or online at laprensa1.com.]

 

The board of elections will create a database registry with the pledge cards and the voter registration cards collected. The signed pledge card gives volunteers and board of elections staff permission to call, text, or email Spanish-speaking voters with voting information updates. Voter contact is expected to begin three months before the election with the follow-up phone calls and messages. After the election, voter history information would be used to see if they actually voted.

 

Latino community partners will be asked to assist by scheduling educational classes on the subject of “Why you should vote”; registering voters and collecting pledge cards; motivating voters through personal contact with family and friends; inviting other groups and agencies to participate; and identifying trusted agencies that will provide volunteers to help maintain the voter database and conduct follow-up calls and e-mails to voters who have agreed to be part of the program.

 

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections will continue to make bilingual ballots and all other voting materials available in Spanish and English. A 2010 Federal consent decree between the board of elections and the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) expired on March 30.  The agreement included providing bilingual ballots and other voting materials to Spanish-speaking voters.

 

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections provided a special hotline for Spanish speaking voters during the May 6 primary.  Voting instructions and a large sample ballot were provided in English and Spanish, as well as bilingual poll workers provided in voting precincts with large numbers of Spanish-speaking voters. The board of elections already has committed to continue a Spanish version of its website, Facebook page, and retain the services of its bilingual coordinator.  Any new documents created by the board of elections also will be bilingual.

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/13/14 19:19:51 -0700.

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