Making the most of the minority vote

Voting (AP Photo/The Advocate Messenger)

GARDEN CITY, Kansas– Hispanic voters in Kansas make up about 6% of the entire voting population.  This election that margin could be enough to change the outcome of some close races.

“It’s very important that the Latino community rises up and actually votes,” said Johnny Dunlap, member of the Ford County Kansas Democratic Party.

Historically though, they don’t.

“They’re the working poor, they’ve been discriminated against for so long they’ve just lost faith in the system,” said David Caicedo with Kansas People’s Action.

Kansas People’s Action has volunteers from as far away as New York working to get minority voters to the polls.

“We try to make them realize that they do have the power to vote and make a difference,” said volunteer Jasmine Navarro.

The group also works to inform voters about the controversial voter ID and citizenship law that has led to more than 20,000 potential voters unable to cast a ballot, because they haven’t complied with the proof of citizenship requirement.  It’s especially an issue in Southwest Kansas.

“We have had a lot of minority voters.  The area that we are in serves a lot of the minority people in Garden City,” said precinct volunteer Marilyn Ornelas.

Federal law requires certain accommodations.   In four Kansas counties there’s a large enough Spanish speaking population that they’ll actually have translators at every polling place.  Finney, Seward, Grant, and Ford Counties also have to provide ballots with Spanish.

Poll volunteers said they’ve seen a lot of diversity this year, but won’t know voter turnout numbers until after the election.


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