The meeting was presented
by Lorna McLain, a volunteer at the SLAB, who began with
some disappointing numbers.
Only 47 percent of
registered Latinos voted in Cuyahoga County in 2012, according
to data provided by the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates (NOVA), a
non-partisan organization dedicated to expanding voter
registration in underrepresented areas. Cuyahoga County is 5.1
percent Hispanic, according to the 2012 U.S. census.
Nationally in 2012, Latino
voters did better, comprising 10 percent of the electorate,
according to the Pew Research Center, which reported off
of national exit polls.
To combat these numbers,
“Es Nuestro Turno” goes deeper than just setting up
information booths at fairs, said McLain.
“That mentality [of
setting up information booths] does not work,” Ms. McLain said.
“That mentality has to leave the room, and if you walked in here
with that mentality, just turn around and come back in because
it has to leave.”
Instead, those involved
with “Es Nuestro Turno” will be committed to an engaged
and detailed process reaching out to ones community. Ms. McLain
called the process an “engagement timeline,” and it sets
attainable goals in the months before Election Day such as
hosting voter education events at a nonprofit, anecdotal
engagement and a process to follow-up with clients before
The concept of the
engagement timeline came about when Ivelisse Roig,
bilingual election program coordinator with the Cuyahoga County
Board of Elections, was contacted by NOVA to try out a project
that was previously done by Nonprofit Vote in 2012, which
increased the Latino turnout.
of NOVA said the methods used by Nonprofit Vote had great
success, increasing the Latino vote by as much as 20 percent.
consider themselves very lucky if they can get a five percent
increase in turnout by sending hundreds of people knocking on
doors,” Robbins said. “[A] 20 percent turnout without that is
because of organizations like yours, because you not only
register people but you see them afterwards [to follow up with
“Non-profits and community
organizations are crucial to the movement,” said Ms. McLain,
because ‘their clients know the organizations can deliver
services they need and they trust them. The relationship is
mutual, since voting is beneficial to the clients. Furthermore,
nonprofits have greater access to elected leaders as well as
“What we’re looking for,
you’re serving already,” Ms. McLain said. “We’re looking for
your clients that walk in every single day. This is what was
missing in what we were trying to do [in previous years].”
The nonprofits must be
committed and detailed in their approach, Ms. Roig emphasized.
In addition to the timeline there must be a detailed approach to
work with the clients. Ms. Roig suggested even simply having the
receptionist ask people if they’re registered and alerting them
about registration deadlines and voting deadlines.
“We want people to
understand that we need your support. How many [voter]
registration cards are brought back [from the Puerto Rican
festival]? 15, for a two or three day event?” Ms. Roig said.
“That’s not effective, and we need something more
effective, we need engagement and we need everyone to become
part of this project.”
Lack of follow-up of
people who were registered to vote also contributed to lower
“In the past, we have
registered a lot of people, but we still have a low number of
turnout, people who actually vote,” said Omar Medina,
pastor and president of La Fraternidad de Pastores Hispanos
Unidos. “So the good thing about this program that I love,
that makes a difference, is that they have actually found unique
and interesting ways to engage the people, and to present the
importance of voting in a way they can relate.”
For instance, Medina said
if a community wants a problem taken care of in their venue,
they need to understand that county leadership and politicians
will listen to those who voted.
If a nonprofit can help
their clients understand the real-life importance of voting,
voter turnout should increase, said Ingrid Angel,
director of El Barrio.
“I think we have to make
this real and person-to-people,” Ms. Angel said. “When
individuals understand what they’re voting for, it gives them a
reason to go to the polls.”
Keeping a database of who
was registered and who actually voted is also important, said
Mr. Robbins, who offered to keep records if the group so
The SLAB assists the Board
of Elections of Cuyahoga County to ensure that ballots and
voting information packets are printed in both English and
Spanish. This has been the law since 2010, when the Department
of Justice (DOJ) and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
entered into a federal agreement. Although federal oversight
expired March 2014, the bilingual practices were continued.
Ms. McLain said if they
get the full support of at least four to five Latino groups for
this push, they should be on a good track. Ms. Roig said 4
groups that were in attendance had signed on.
One of those groups was
Pastor Medina’s Fraternidad de Pastores Hispanos Unidos.
He praised the efforts of those involved with “Es Neustro
“We always say to let our
voices be heard,” Pastor Medina said. “But when it comes to
making changes, our voices are not only what we say but our
voices are actually boiled down to numbers –statistics – numbers
of voters. That’s what’s going to make the politicians and
leaders of the community do what we need done.”