National and state Latino organizations affiliated with labor will kick off a statewide voter registration drive among Latinos tonight in Toledo.
Baldemar Velasquez, founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, said he's hoping national Latino groups will put money and other resources into the effort to get Latinos registered and out to vote.
The kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Teamsters Local 20 Hall at Hawley Street and the Anthony Wayne Trail.
“It’s a pretty all-out effort. It is imperative for us to make sure that our community can work through the obstacles that might deny us our right to vote,” Mr. Velasquez said.
Joining the kick-off will be leaders of two national organizations, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, which Mr. Velasquez said is a branch of the AFL-CIO, and the League of United Latin American Citizens, which he said is an organization formed after World War II to promote civil rights for Latinos. Also expected are the presidents of the LULAC offices in Cincinnati and Columbus.
Mr. Velasquez said the plan is to scan voter registration records for the first 1,000 names that look Latino and contact those people to encourage registration of anyone in the household who is not registered and to encourage others to get out and vote and to fill out an absentee-voter application.
“We’re going to coordinate early voting to make sure they get to the sites. We’re collaborating with community agencies to have transportation [and] coordinate with churches to use their vans to get people to the polls early voting before Election Day,” Mr. Velazquez said.
Mr. Velazquez said that the voter registration drive will be nonpartisan, but predicted it will benefit Democratic President Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney because polls show Hispanic voters favoring President Obama’s re-election.
“The objective is to get people out to vote. Maybe some percentage of the people will vote for Romney, I don't know. I’m sure they'll vote in their best interests. When you look at a guy like Romney who's a ‘self-deportation’ candidate, I don't think Latinos look very kindly on that candidacy, after they fell all over each other in the primaries seeing who could be the meanest toward Mexicans,” Mr. Velasquez said.
Chris Maloney, spokesman for Mr. Romney’s campaign in Ohio, pushed back, saying President Obama has not lived up to his promises to address the problems of illegal immigration in the United States and that Latinos suffer disproportionately to the rest of the population from unemployment and the stagnant economy.
“Mr. Romney is a strong proponent of legal immigration and believes that the promise of America has brought some of the world’s best and brightest to our shores,” Mr. Maloney said.
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