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NC Latino voter drive seeks to build trust and boost turnout

 Ivan Parra with NC Congress of Latino Organizations speaks in Charlotte about increasing Latino voter turnout.
Kayla Young
WFAE and La Noticia
Ivan Parra with NC Congress of Latino Organizations speaks in Charlotte about increasing Latino voter turnout.

North Carolina’s Latino community leaders gathered outside of Compare Foods supermarket in south Charlotte to begin a statewide appeal to Latino voters.

The campaign, La Voz de Mi Gente or “the voice of my people,” has enlisted community advocacy groups, businesses and churches to reach voters wherever they may be.

Lariza Garzón with the Hispanic Federation said the goal is to cast a wide net and appeal to voters through organizations they know and trust.

“I think we are being very intentional to reach out to different parts of our community because we have diversity in our community,” Garzón said. "We have representatives from all parts of society, groups that are working with the LGBTQ community, with Latino youth, grassroots organizations."

The Latin American Coalition will focus its youth outreach efforts online, said director José Hernández París.

“We realized we can reach thousands of people through audiovisual and social media messaging,” Hernández París said. "We realized our youth are being bombarded constantly with messages that are negative and messages that sometimes keep them away from voting.”

Other efforts, like those from United Methodist Pastor David Ortigoza, will be face-to-face.

“Why we do this is because we already have relationships with our congregations in our communities to empower them to be a part of the process,” Ortigoza said.

Other partners involved in the voter drive include the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations, Casa Azul de Wilson and El Centro Hispano.

One study by the Naleo Education Fund projects about 100,000 Latinos in North Carolina will turn out this November. That’s fewer than half of the demographic’s registered voters.

As of Aug. 20, there were 42,352 registered Latino voters in Mecklenburg County and 258,255 statewide, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

On Oct. 15, Ivan Parra of the NC Congress of Latino Organizations said delegates plan to meet with Senate candidates for a nonpartisan meeting about issues affecting Latino communities.

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Kayla Young