Central Valley

Massive elections push aims to register Latino voters

SAN FRANCISCO -- A coalition of Spanish-language media and community organizations kicked off a massive voter registration drive Thursday, aiming to register nearly one million Hispanic voters.

Hispanics have long been seen as a potentially powerful voting force, but that promise has yet to fully materialize.

This campaign -- whose name in Spanish, "Ya es Hora, Ve y Vota!" translates as "It's Time, Go Vote" -- intends to change that by providing eligible new citizens with the information and the incentive they need to take part in the American political process, organizers said.

"This effort will not only put voter registration forms in the hands on Latinos, but also may help shape the political landscape," said Janet Murgia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza.

Only 47 percent of Hispanic citizens of any race turned out to vote in the 2004 presidential election, compared with 67 percent for non-Hispanic white citizens and 60 percent for blacks, according to census figures.

The campaign's print media partner, impreMedia, will insert 990,500 voter registration cards into its publications between Friday and Monday in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Community organizers will follow up with information on how to register and why it's important to vote. Their message will be reinforced by television and radio spots by media giant Univision Communication and Entravision Communications.

Hispanics traditionally have leaned Democratic, but organizers emphasized this effort was nonpartisan and intended only to increase civic participation and make the Hispanic voice heard on issues that matter most to them: the economy, education and immigration reform.

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