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How the push to register Latino voters could change Arizona’s political makeup

October 24, 2016 at 6:35 PM EDT
Arizona, a traditionally red state, could be in play this election for the first time in decades. Hoping to boost voter turnout, a group called One Arizona focused on helping eligible Latinos register to vote, signing up 150,000 voters this election alone. Angélica Casas and Jennifer Cain of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism report from Phoenix.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we have heard, reliably red Arizona is one of the latest states that is feeling the effects of a Democratic push.

Just last week, Michelle Obama visited Phoenix, and polls show the presidential race tightening. Hoping to boost voter turnout, a group called Arizona One is making sure Latinos who are eligible actually register and vote.

By the recent state deadline, One Arizona helped register 150,000 Latino voters.

The story comes from University of California, Berkeley, journalism students.

It’s produced by Angelica Casas and Jennifer Cain, who narrates.

JENNIFER CAIN: Abril Gallardo is working overtime.

ABRIL GALLARDO, Program Coordinator, Living United For Change: We can start off and do some role play.

My name is Abril. Nice to meet you.

JENNIFER CAIN: The college student is a part of a coalition called One Arizona. The group’s effort, to register new Latino voters, could alter the political makeup of the state.

ABRIL GALLARDO: We are going to get you registered to vote. Are you a U.S. citizen?

JENNIFER CAIN: Roughly, 400,000 Latinos are eligible to vote, but are unregistered. One Arizona registered 150,000 Latino voters this year. Latinos tend to vote Democrat. Their efforts could swing the state blue for the first time in decades.

ABRIL GALLARDO: You’re not old enough? Will you be 18 before November?

I want to make a change in my community. I want to impact my community.

JENNIFER CAIN: Some of the canvassers can’t vote themselves, like Abril. For over a decade, she was undocumented. Now she calls herself DACAmented. DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It provides temporary legal status to individuals who arrived in the U.S. before 2007 and were under the age of 16.

ABRIL GALLARDO: I have my own voice, and, as undocumented and not being able to vote, my power, my political power is as strong as if I could vote.

JENNIFER CAIN: In 2010, Arizona passed state Bill 1070. The law required immigrants over the age of 14 to carry documentation of legal status at all times. Many families felt targeted by the law and formed One Arizona.

ALEJANDRA GOMEZ, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Empowerment: So we would have the vigil on this side, and then, on this side, we would have all of the voter registration tables.

JENNIFER CAIN: At the time SB-1070 passed, Alejandra Gomez was in college and her father was undocumented.

ALEJANDRA GOMEZ: We have been going out to every single supermarket, mall. We have been going out to gas stations. It’s this whole group of young people that care about what happens to their parents, that care about their future, that care about their education.

JENNIFER CAIN: Many of the group’s canvassers come from predominantly Latino neighborhoods in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, where One Arizona focuses its efforts.

JOSE OSORIA, Canvasser, One Arizona: There’s many people out there that can’t vote, but they wish they could vote, because they know how much this affects them.

JENNIFER CAIN: Jose Osoria, an 18-year-old canvasser, is one of those people who wish they could vote. Born in Sonora, he immigrated 10 years ago. Now he works full time on voter education and voter protection.

JOSE OSORIA: A lot of people don’t know where to go to get registered. The majority would be Hispanic families that are citizens and are able to vote, but don’t know the whole thing. So I take my time.

MAN (through translator): We need the whole community, right?

JOSE OSORIA (through translator): That’s true.

MAN (through translator): This is the first time I will be voting. I just became a citizen.

JOSE OSORIA (through translator): Thank you.

I’m going out there and teaching people like me.

JENNIFER CAIN: While efforts to register Latinos have helped increase their rolls to more than 600,000, not all will go to the polls.

ALEJANDRA GOMEZ: The undocumented community that can’t vote are the ones that have been leading these efforts and saying that, even though I can’t vote, you can be my voice and you can be my vote.

JOSE OSORIA: When I register someone, I’m always doing it with a smile, because they’re contagious.

MAN: Voting? I not receive my registration.

JENNIFER CAIN: As Election Day approaches, One Arizona will knock on the doors of 105,000 homes, urging people to get to the polls and vote early.

JOSE OSORIA: Then you should re-register, because you weren’t registered. So, sign here and date it. Today is the 23rd.

JENNIFER CAIN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jennifer Cain reporting in Phoenix, Arizona.

JOSE OSORIA: Thank you so much.

MAN: Have a good day.

Editor’s Note: One Arizona was misidentified as Arizona One in the introduction.