Rachel Flores, whose grandparents came to the United States from Mexico, votes in every election and researches the candidates and issues before she steps into a voting booth. She said she thinks if candidates running for office made a greater effort to reach out to the Hispanic community, more Hispanics would vote.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Rachel Flores, whose grandparents came to the United States from Mexico, votes in every election and researches the candidates and issues before she steps into a voting booth. She said she thinks if candidates running for office made a greater effort to reach out to the Hispanic community, more Hispanics would vote.

Having a say

Candidates could do more to reach out to Hispanic, Latino voters, local says

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— Voting isn't only Rachel Flores' right and responsibility.

It's also a way for her to take a stand on issues that matter to her.

"If we don't vote, if we're just sitting, (then) nobody hears us," she said.

Flores, who has lived in Craig for 19 years, was born and raised in the United States, but her grandparents came to the U.S. from Mexico.

Flores seems to takes the opportunity seriously. She votes in every election and does her homework before going to the polls, researching the candidates and the issues that will appear on the ballot.

Determining how many members of Moffat County's Hispanic and Latino population are eligible to vote is difficult to track because voter registration forms ask only whether potential voters are U.S. citizens.

Some Colorado counties are mandated to provide bilingual ballots.

"But we haven't been mandated to do that," said Lila Herod, Moffat County chief deputy clerk, at least "not yet."

Whether a county must provide ballots in more than one language depends on whether census data shows the county has a significant population of non-English speakers.

"The best thing for them to do is to bring somebody with them that speaks the language and that can assist them, because we don't have (the ballot) in a second language," Herod said.

A local multicultural organization is planning to help other Hispanic voters make informed decisions.

On Oct. 29, Integrated Community will offer materials in Spanish about various Election Day topics, from explanations of the ballot issues to polling place information.

Major issues

Tatiana Achcar, who recently took over as Integrated Community executive director, said she hasn't been in the area long enough to gauge what values the local Hispanic community holds.

However, she identified one issue taking prominence at the national level: immigration.

"Obviously, the No. 1 concern of the Latino community nationwide tends to be immigration policy and the talks of the comprehensive immigration reform," she said.

Many Latino families have members who haven't been able to obtain legalization.

"It really affects the whole family," she said. "I think many people are looking for a viable solution, a political solution, to the problem."

And the results of the upcoming election, for president and Congress, could affect the overall direction of U.S. immigration policy.

Emdruro Agala, who came to the U.S. from Mexico, said the economy is one of his primary concerns.

"I think the economy is real bad now," he said.

Still, he added, its better than it is in Mexico.

He also thinks more can be done to help Hispanics living in America.

"We are Mexicans," he said. "We need something to help us to : to live here better."

Just exactly what that would include, however, is a question he doesn't have an answer to.

Agala said he thinks he is registered to vote and wants to cast his ballot this year.

Flores, who plans to vote in this year's election, is worried about the economy, too. She said making sure middle class workers can earn a decent salary is a main concern for her this year.

"If that's taken care of, then everything else should fall into place," she said.

Making a decision

Although early voting and mail-in voting currently are available, Flores still is considering the candidates and doesn't plan to vote until Nov. 4 - Election Day.

Normally, Flores votes Republican. However, making a decision on the presidential candidates may prove difficult for her this year.

"So far, this time it seems kind of close," she said. "They both have good issues."

But ultimately, her background doesn't heavily influence the way she casts her vote.

"I look at the whole picture," she said, "instead of just saying I want to vote for him because he goes for the Hispanic (vote), or I'm not going to vote for him because he doesn't."

On the other hand, she thinks candidates could do more to reach out to her demographic.

"It seems like this year, they really hadn't got out and talked very much to the Hispanic (community)," she said. "It seems different this year."

Her conversations with friends and relatives have supported her view. Some members of the local Hispanic community feel candidates aren't interested in the Hispanic vote.

"I think if (the candidates) would do more and try to, I think more Hispanics would vote," Flores said.

During these conversations with family and friends, she's found that some Hispanic voters would like to see candidates reaching out to voters of all different ethnicities. Furthermore, she said, some of these voters would like to see campaign ads and materials presented in Spanish.

The latter concern isn't an issue for Flores, who reads campaign materials in English.

"I'm being satisfied," she said. "I am getting information, (but) I guess they're not, really."

Comments

Lawspecialist 6 years, 2 months ago

Some of the statements here disturb me. The last time I checked the law, you must be a citizen to vote. I have been to Mexico about 14 times; have never been to a resort there but to the "real" Mexico where I've seen houses with dirt floors and no electricity and wooden windows. I fully understand why Mexican Nationals want to come to this country, however, for them to come here and EXPECT us to help them "live here better" is absolutely insane! They already live here better on the dime of the American Citizen. I almost think it would be easier or better if we, as American Citizens go to Mexico, denounce our citizenship in the states and then come back so we may enjoy the many benefits the Mexican Nationals enjoy at no expense of their own! For example: they go the hospitals and register as indigents and receive health care at little or no cost to themselves, they have babies here and we pay for them and as they report to Medicaid or medicare they are not married and don't know who the father of their baby[s] are, they then get food stamps, medicaid and WIC! They sign up for every free thing there is whether they need it or not. Example? Toys for tots, holiday baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas and they usually lie by reporting their families are bigger than actual to get more free food! Most of these people drive newer vehicles than you or I do! Live Better? Here's a concept . . EMPLOYMENT. . . SEEK IT . . . and make your way like the rest of the citizens. Immigration form is a crock, they'll keep coming illegally as long as we have a trade agreement. I dare any of you to go to Mexico and apply for all the benefits they receive here. You'll be laughed at and deported at YOUR OWN EXPENSE or you can always go to jail and pay to get out and pay your way back to the states. By the way? They don't fly our American flag in Mexico, they don't celebrate our American Holidays in Mexico and they DONT speak English (except at border cities and resorts and then its limited), they expect the Americans that go to their country to speak Spanish! I say if they want immigration form lets even out the stakes and give Americans in Mexico what we give Mexicans in America FIRST! (by the way? I AM MEXICAN)

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