DES MOINES, Iowa – Last year, the League of United Latino American Citizens – or LULAC – set a goal to get 10,000 Iowa Latinos to vote in the caucuses. Now, they’re setting their sights on Election Day, and hope to get more than five times that amount of Latinos to the polls.
LULAC used this weekend’s annual Latino Heritage Festival in downtown Des Moines as a platform to urge Iowa Latinos to register to vote and to vote early. The group isn’t pushing for a particular party or platform, but rather just wants the Latino community to value its privilege to vote.
“Many of the people that are coming to this country that are immigrants, are coming from war-torn situations, or have situations of which they haven’t been given the freedom to exercise their right to vote,” said Mary Campos with LULAC. “And they’ve been threatened.”
LULAC is doing whatever it can to make the voting process seem as least intimidating as possible; even handouts that break down the American political system in easy-to-understand language. Volunteers say making it seem less complex leads to more Latinos engaging in the voting process. And LULAC isn’t the only group making its presence well-known at this weekend’s festival: both the Democratic and Republican parties of Iowa, as well as the Libertarian party, are out in full force.
“I think this is the year, but this is the year to really build upon something for the future,” said Bryan Jack Holder, the Libertarian congressional candidate in Iowa’s third district. “Because we’re going to be around for a long time, the Libertarian Party has only been around for about four decades, and these other two major parties have been around for 150-160 years.”