"Every day is Election Day from now until Nov. 2," said Petra Falcon of Promise Arizona, a group that is mobilizing Latino voter turnout in Arizona.
People in Arizona want to reverse the divisions created by the passage of the state's anti-immigrant law SB 1070, she said. "We're working toward creating an atmosphere based on hope and not fear." She added that people are excited to vote early and Latinos are energized and look forward to sensible and practical comprehensive immigration reform.
Falcon was one of several Latino and immigrant rights advocates speaking on an October 14 conference call about Latino voter mobilization campaigns in key states across the country.
"People on the ground are just frustrated and angry at the mischaracterization of Latinos and immigrant families after SB 1070," Jennifer Allen, of the Arizona-based Border Action Network said. "The plus side is that Latinos want their communities to count so their voice can thrive and grow. They are so ready and anxious to cast their votes."
Speakers on the call said they are working in 23 different states to get out the Latino vote through door knocking, phone banking and mailings with the aim of getting an additional million votes cast.
Lynn Tramonte of America's Voice said, "We're all united by the idea to get Latinos to the polls including newly naturalized immigrant citizens." She noted that most new immigrant voters are extremely patriotic and become citizens by choice and are eager to vote.
Ben Monterroso, with Mi Familia Vota, said his group is focusing on three states, Arizona, Colorado and Texas, especially areas where candidates have failed to connect with the Latino community. "Our victory will be about turning out as many Latino voters as possible," he said. "This election is about respect and making sure the Latino voice gets heard. It's not necessarily about Democrats or Republicans. Our victory will be about turnout."
Latino voter turnout is about demonstrating the power of low-income communities, said Rudy Lopez of the Campaign for Community Change. He said that in 2006 and 2008 Latinos went to the polls in record numbers. It's imperative to continue influencing that trend and move voters in a powerful way to send a message to both political parties, he said.
"The power of our vote tells the stories of real people and real communities fighting anti-immigrant laws like Arizona's SB 1070," Lopez added. "And we're saying we won't stand for those types of measures."
Aparna Shah said her group, the We Are America Alliance, has been reaching out to Latinos, immigrants and the Asian electorate in several states. Contrary to other polls that indicate low turnout, she said her group's poll shows an overwhelming majority, 57 percent, of voters that say they are absolutely planning to vote. 70 percent are closely watching the elections.
"People are well aware of the state budget crises taking shape across the country and are concerned about public services, including education, public safety, childcare and health care," Shah added.
Latinos in Florida don't want to become the next Arizona, said Rafael Collazo with Democracia USA. "They want to know how the federal and state elections affect them," he said. "The cohesiveness in our message is that the Latino vote is more powerful today than ever before."
Latinos are the largest ethnic/racial minority population in the U.S. and in 41 of the nation's 100 largest cities.
In a recent get out the vote ad, The National Council of La Raza notes, "Some politicians are proposing putting land mines on the border, not to mention the idea of taking citizenship away from our children born in the U.S. Voting this November 2 is one step toward reversing this negative tide," says NCLR.
"Staying home, on the other hand is not an option."