Latino voter registrations spike in North Carolina

Latino voter registrations spike in North Carolina
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Latinos in North Carolina are registering to vote in unprecedented numbers, raising the prospect that they could swing the state in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonVirginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Hillary Clinton: Casting doubt on 2020 election is 'doing Putin's work' MORE over Donald TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE.

Voto Latino, a civic media organization focused on engaging Latino millennials, has registered nearly 109,000 voters across the country this year.


It says it is finding more success in places such as North Carolina that are not usually known for hosting large numbers of Latinos.

“These are states that might not have the same foundational organizations that have done the work for many years,” said Mario Carrillo, the group’s communications director.

In North Carolina, the group registered 7,107 Latino voters — the fourth highest total in the country after California, Texas and Florida, three states with much larger total Latino populations.

North Carolina had fewer than 1 million Latinos in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center.

But Héctor Vaca, the director for ActionNC in Charlotte, said the state's Hispanic population grew by 110 percent between 2000 and 2010 and now accounts for 2 percent of registered voters.

“Every vote will matter this year as another close vote takes place,” said Vaca. “We’ve seen a difference this election. A lot more people are motivated to vote because of all this hateful rhetoric.”

Clinton, the Democratic nominee, is leading her Republican rival in North Carolina by 1.3 percentage points, according to the latest RealClear Politics polling average.

“North Carolina has been extremely engaged, especially on digital,” said Lizet Ocampo, director of People for the American Way's Latinos Vote program, which is running an anti-Trump registration campaign.

“In 2012, North Carolina’s margin of victory for [Mitt] Romney was 92,004 votes. In 2012, there were 169,000 Latinos who were eligible to vote. About 95,000 voted. 74,000 didn’t vote,” said Ocampo.

Latinos have traditionally participated less in elections than other voting blocs, but statistics show they participate at equal or higher numbers to whites once they are registered to vote. This has led Latino activists and Democrats to focus their Latino message on voter registration, rather than traditional campaign advertising.

In states where Latinos have less political power, they may be further incentivized to participate.

“Latino voters in North Carolina are sadly no strangers to the anti-immigrant agenda of Donald Trump and his party,” said Vaca. “[It's] making it easier to register voters.”

A 2015 North Carolina law banned cities from becoming sanctuary cities and from accepting identification issued by foreign governments.

Mexican consulates in the United States can issue all Mexican citizens a form of identification, often the only one available to undocumented immigrants.

“I see that in North Carolina, I see that in Georgia — really engaged communities that have the experience of something negative happening to them,” said Ocampo.