Labor unions and Latino leaders begin a statewide voter registration in California

With less than 90 days until the November midterm elections, California labor unions and Latino community leaders are ratcheting up their voter registration teams in an effort to minimize Democratic losses.

“For Latinos, the 2010 election is more than merely electing one candidate or another, it is about taking an active role, now more than ever, in the decisions that will affect our families and creating a brighter future for our children and grandchildren,” said Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “We have the potential to swing elections and the time for our voices to be heard is now.”

SEIU along with the California Teachers Union and Latino leaders started a new nine-city registration campaign called Por Nuestras Familias – Todos a Votar. For those who don’t read Spanish the English translation is “For Our Families – All Vote.”

By contrast, California is also home to the largest network of Tea Party organizations in the country and they too are looking to sway voters to consider the financial consequences of illegal immigration to Californians.

However, the labor and Latino leaders are looking to have their voices well represented in November. Latino groups are trying to educate their constituency about the importance of voting especially in light of Arizona’s SB1070, a law that sets out to enforce immigration laws more strictly in Arizona.

“With jobs and immigration being the two most important issues in November’s elections, participating in the political process gives Latinos an opportunity to demand respect for our contributions to the economy and civic life of our communities,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

CHIRLA was formed in 1986 to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles; promote harmonious multi-ethnic and multi-racial human relations; and through coalition-building, advocacy, community education and organizing, empower immigrants and their allies to build a more just society, according to their website.

The CHIRLA organization has been accused of openly meeting with high-ranking Mexican government officials during the California proposition 187 debate that rocked California during the 1990s.

The unions and Latino leaders say the new voter registration campaign will encourage the Latinos, “who make up 32 percent of the adult population eligible to vote but only represent 20 percent of the California’s registered voters,” to head to the ballot box for the midterm election.

The bus tour is set to begin on August 14 and plans to visit San Diego, Riverside, Santa Ana, Los Angeles and San Fernando in southern California before heading north to Bakersfield, Fresno, San Jose and Sacramento.

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