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Group Aims To Register 1,000 Voters For Hispanic Heritage Month

Norma Martinez

A voting registration campaign is underway for Hispanic Heritage Month.  It’s being driven by the Texas Victory Project – an organization that advocates for the working poor – and other local and national organizations.   The goal is to register 1000 voters statewide to increase turnout in the 2018 primary and general election.  TPR’s Norma Martinez had a chance to talk with Claudia Sanchez and Arnoldo Alonzo – political director and state director of the Texas Victory Project – about their efforts. 

CLAUDIA SANCHEZ: People who have attended our events, sometimes it’s their first time getting engaged in the political process.  That’s one of our goals. That we want to engage the community, we want them to learn the whole process and how we can empower them. To make sure they are holding our elected officials accountable, that they’re voting, that they’re getting their family & friends registered, and making sure we’re talking about the issues impacting working class communities.

Arnoldo, what kind of issues are you particularly focusing on?

ARNOLDO ALONZO: We are asking people, what are the most important issues they and their family are facing.  and what we’re finding out is it’s higher wages for working people. Social Security. Health care.  Being able to reform our criminal justice system. And when you’re having these conversations with the electorate, you tend to realize that whatever the talking points are nationally, they tend not to reflect the reality on the ground. 

Ultimately, all the issues that are more along the political spectrum, like Arnoldo was saying, people are focusing on the bottom line: how do I pay the bills, I need to make ends meet. How do you convince people that starting off by registering to vote and getting off the ground by having a voice in the issues - how do you convince people that that’s the best place to start to actually work to change their lives?

SANCHEZ: That’s only part of the process. Getting registered, getting deputized, going out to vote.  But also having town halls in their community. That way people know what’s happening with their neighbors, what’s happening in the political spectrum, and how they can make those changes. We don’t only want to win elections where we have candidates listening to us, but have someone who will be out there fighting for them. And we can win through legislation as well, making those changes that will impact them directly.

During Hispanic Heritage Month you began this campaign to register 1000 voters from September 15th through October 15th.  What kind of progress have you made?

ALONZO: We’ve been able to register 160. Our biggest blessing has been the city of San Benito. Small town, less than 22,000. The city, the mayor, the school board, LULAC, and over 30 volunteers attended our voter registration training.  Right there, it’s going to be three-to-four-to-five hundred people registered to vote in San Benito. That will put us – if my math is good, I majored in English – that puts us at 660 or 760.  Myself, Claudia and all our volunteers have to hit the remainder and we hit “go.”  And if we don’t hit “go” we’re still going to register people.  Hispanic issues are not just relevant for one month. Our goal is not to register people. Our goal is to be able to increase the electorate and the participation and ask everyone we register to vote, are you willing and able to be a poll worker? Are you willing and able to be a precinct chair?  Regardless of party. If it’s Republican, it’s Republican. If it’s Democrat, it’s Democrat. We need to be able to build the political capital our people deserve. Can you be the precinct chair?  Our precinct chairs are not precinct chairs – they’re community organizers. We have 21 of them who are in charge of one thing alone. That’s hosting one town hall, finding out the issue that matters the most to their community, and fixing that issue in one year. That’s it. It can be as simple as one pothole.  Everyone knows that one pothole in el barrio.  It’s like, “esperate, move to the left!”  It can be as complex as providing free wi-fi.  When you speak with the electorate, you realize that everything you learn you have to push a little bit to the side, because there’s a different reality on the ground. 

​Learn more at https://www.texasvictoryproject.com/