Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Associated Press: Mobilizing Latinx Voters in North Carolina

The Associated Press has a fascinating report on efforts to mobilize Latinx voters in North Carolina.  Here is the AP synopsis:


America Disrupted: Part 3

He set out to mobilize Latino voters. Then the virus hit.

Across the U.S., the coronavirus outbreak is disrupting Latinos’ long and difficult climb up the political ladder. The disease has disproportionately sickened Latinos, destabilized communities and impeded voter registration ahead of the November presidential election.

In North Carolina, an emerging frontier in Latino politics, only 5,000 Latinos have been added to the voter rolls since mid-March, less than half the number added during the same period four years ago. 

The virus and the economic fallout it triggered is crashing down on Latinos just as they hit a new electoral milestone. For the first time, there will be more Latinos eligible to vote than any other minority group -- 32 million, the Pew Research Center projects.

But Latinos have long seemed on the cusp of realizing their potential at the ballot box, only to see their impact undermined. In 2016, fewer than half of eligible Latinos voted. 

Alamance County, North Carolina

In Alamance County amid the housing tracts and thick forests reaching between Raleigh and Greensboro, there are four Latinos who cannot vote for every one who can. 

For decades, those numbers meant one thing: Latinos’ growing population in the state didn’t translate into political power. Rather, it had the opposite effect of animating resentment and grievance, as politicians seized on immigration as a potent issue.

Now the children of immigrants are coming of age, finding their voice and their leaders. For part three of "America Disrupted" we traveled to North Carolina to talk to local leaders and activists.


Alamance County residents we spoke to

 ·         Ricky Hurtado, 31, son of Salvadoran immigrants. Hurtado was born in Los Angeles but moved to Alamance County when he was 7, where his mother worked at a chicken plant. He is now running for public office.

·         County Sheriff Terry Johnson, a Republican who first came to office in 2002. Johnson was the only sheriff in the country other than Arizona’s notorious Joe Arpaio to be sued by the Obama administration Department of Justice for civil rights violations against immigrants. 

·         Omar Lugo, 42, a Venezuelan immigrant. Lugo says he see evidence that Latinos in North Carolina are turning to the GOP in these turbulent times. Latinos are repelled by scenes of chaotic demonstrations and the debate over defunding police departments, he said. 

·         Aranza Sosa, 22. She began researching local politics after she was turned away by Johnson’s deputies over a Black Lives Matter protest. Her uncle died of COVID-19 in late May.

About the story: From reporter Nicholas Riccardi

When we set out last year to do a story on the Latino electorate, we thought about taking a different approach and looking for places where Latinos largely couldn’t vote. Nationally only half of Latinos can vote, well behind whites and African-Americans.

We zeroed in on Alamance County, North Carolina, where a young Latino named Ricky Hurtado was running for the statehouse. A team of AP reporters spent a week following Hurtado as he launched his campaign in early March. 

Then the world fell apart. Coronavirus scrambled the news environment, followed by the economic crash, then the George Floyd protests. Through it all, we stayed in touch with the people we met in North Carolina, and the story became as much about the new challenges Latinos face in politics as well as past barriers.

Read the full story here.


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