Will Latinos head out to the polling places for the Special Elections?

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Will Latinos head out to the polling places for the Special Elections?

CREATED Apr 16, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (kGUN9-TV) -- The candidates shouldn't count on Latinos coming out in droves tomorrow. Some Hispanic leaders told KGUN9 OYS  that although candidates have reached out to the Latino organizations and voters -- they've haven't really done a good job in getting Latinos into the political mood. And pundits have indicated this is the year of the Latino vote.

Francisco Heredia of Mi Familia Vota has one goal in mind when he walks through the Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods in Pima County -- to register Latino voters. Herreria says the statewide non-partisan grassroots organization is just gearing up. "We're not concentrating much on the special election, but we have efforts going on in the community to get latinos engaged in the political process."

His data from the neighborhoods indicates that it won't be one single issue that drives Latino voters to the polls tomorrow -- and November. "I think this year is a multi-issue .. education, being a top issue, the economy as well as the immigration issue," said Heredia.

And a quick survey in the Latino community confirms those trends. KGUN9's Valerie Cavazos asked George Figeroa the issues that would sway his vote. He answered, "Just the way the money is spent, healthcare."

For Marcos Puente -- the economy is front and center. "A very big issue, yes. That's number one -- that would sway my vote for anybody,'" he said.

"I think that's the biggest challenge," said Tucson Hispanic Chamber president Lea Marquez Peterson. She said the Latino community is too diverse for these special and general election candidates to really nail down. "I think that's been the challenge for both parties and those who have left the parties to become Independent. What exactly is the Latino vote all about? That's the challenge they face."

Heredia says Mi Familia Vota is leading an intense voter outreach campaign to increase the Latino poltical strength in Arizona. "We're going to do a comprehensive program reaching out to Latinos at the doors -- having canvases almost every weekend and every day and we'll be doing phone banks and reminders through the mail," said Heredia. 

But the Special Election candidates won't benefit from those efforts. The Hispanic Chamber and -- Mi Familia Vota are seeing more Latinos write in  Independent and No Party Preference on voter registration forms this year -- so it will be more difficult for candidates to feel they've locked in the Hispanic vote.