Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Local Latinos attend voting registration meeting

Elizabeth Tavira came to Toledo Friday night to hear political speeches urging her to register and vote. If she does, that will happen in Texas.

Ms. Tavira, 43, of McAllen, Texas, was one of about 60 people who came to the meeting, part of a statewide voter registration drive, at the Teamsters Local 20 Hall in South Toledo.

A seasonal farm worker in the Ottawa County village of Oak Harbor, Ms. Tavira says she was registered to vote once, but doesn’t know how to get registered again. “I have no idea how any of that works. Me and my daughter are talking about voting, but we’re going to take our vote to Texas,” Ms. Tavira said.

Baldemar Velasquez, founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee — one of the voter drive’s sponsors — said the goal is to get Hispanics registered, if they aren’t already, for the Nov. 6 election, and to get out and vote.

He said the project already found 700 Latino households in the city’s 17th Ward, in the Old South End.

Among the speakers was Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, a national organization. He said about 2,000 people have been registered in Ohio so far.

Mr. Wilkes said registration efforts have been hampered in other states with large Latino populations, such as Florida and Texas, because of new laws that make it tougher to register voters by creating penalties for new infractions.

He said the goal is not to affect just one election, but make sure Latino voters are taken seriously proportionate to their numbers. About 3 percent of Ohioans, or 354,674 people, are Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census.

Also at the meeting was Lance Torres, 22, who works at the same farm as Ms. Tavira. He said he’s from the Rio Grande Valley and the paychecks are better here than in Texas. “I haven’t really got into that [voting], but I would like to learn more,” Mr. Torres said.

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