With the fall elections quickly approaching, efforts to get more people to become registered voters are in full swing. And with immigration issues on the forefront of many voter’s minds, many Hispanic groups are determined to increase the number of Latino voters showing up at the polls. Today, Saturday, July 24, a group of local area non-profit organizations will gather 40 young Latinos to engage in canvassing efforts throughout Canyon County.
The voter registration efforts are part of a two-day "Vote Leadership Institute" organized by a newly-formed coalition called the Canyon County Latino Voter Collaborative. The collaborative, whose goal is to mobilize the Latino community, includes members from various non-profit organizations including the Idaho Community Action Network, Community Council of Idaho, Catholic Charities of Idaho, Mujeres Unidas de Idaho, Center for Community and Justice and the Idaho Hispanic Caucus.
"Those are the six different community based organizations that are coming together to share their resources and skills to ensure Latino community members are not only out and voting, but also participating in other ways, like advocacy," said Leo Morales, immigrant rights organizer at the Idaho Community Action Network.
Friday, youth between the ages of 14 and their mid-20s participated in workshops, skill building and training sessions that focus on how to encourage hard-to-reach voting groups in their communities to vote, as well as educate them on advocacy issues.
"It is specifically designed to enhance the skills of about 40 youth activists that will form, in a sense, a strong base to do a lot of the work that needs to be in the valley and across the state," Morales said.
Youth were selected for the program after submitting essays on civic engagement, immigration issues and their thoughts on the new Arizona immigration law.
"Some are concerned about what state of Arizona is doing and the message it is sending to the country," Morales said. "For many young Latinos, it is a slap in the face that profiling will continue to occur."
According to U.S. census data from 2008, Latinos comprise more than 10 percent of Idaho’s population and 21.5 percent of Canyon County's population. State Representative Raul Labrador, who is Idaho’s first Congressional Republican Latino candidate running against Walt Minnick, has garnered some mixed reviews from the Latino population for his stance on immigration and health care issues. Although Hispanics voted for Obama by a more than 2 to 1 margin over McCain in the 2008 election, a July 14 article published in USA Today pointed out that many current Hispanic candidates throughout the nation are running as Republicans.
Morales estimates they will reach 600 to 800 homes during Saturday's voter registration efforts. They hope to get 100 new voters registered by the end of the day.
The canvas starts at 9:30 a.m. at Endeavor Elementary School at 2850 East Victory Road in Nampa.