Spanish-Language Campaign Urges Florida Latinos to Vote Early or by Mail
Pa’ luego es tarde, ¡Vota! is committed to getting out the vote early or by mail across Florida, including rural and immigrant communities often disenfranchised by systemic discrimination.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A coalition of national non-profit organizations launched on Monday Pa ’luego es tarde, ¡Vota! – a Spanish-language voter education campaign that seeks to encourage Latino voters to vote early and by mail and to understand their voting rights. At a time when the stakes are at the highest they’ve been in decades, with an economy in crisis, racial injustices raging on, and a pandemic threatening lives and livelihoods, Pa’ luego es tarde, ¡Vota! will provide access to information and voting resources in Spanish in a dedicated website, paluegoestarde.com, and a hotline 1-833-LPJ-LTNX to help fend off voter suppression efforts.
The campaign, whose name loosely translates as The sooner, the better: Vote, is launched as millions of Floridians will receive their vote-by-mail ballots starting on Sept. 19th. It is supported by a coalition of five national civic engagement non-partisan organizations, including All Voting is Local, Common Cause, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Mi Familia Vota, and The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. LatinoJustice PRLDEF, an organization championing civil and human rights, will be at the helm of operationalizing these efforts on a daily basis.
<p?“Early voting and vote-by-mail are helpful tools for Latino voters dealing with systemic barriers to the ballot box,” said Kira Romero-Craft, Managing attorney with LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “When we go out and vote, we don’t just figure out what candidates we prefer and where we fall on the issues. Many of us also have to figure out how to get to the polls, whether we can take enough time off from work to wait in line if needed, or find someone to watch the kids while we’re at it.”
Low-income and monolingual Latinos are often disenfranchised by the lack of access to public-facing election materials in Spanish. In Florida, counties in which at least 5 percent or 10,000 of its eligible voters speak a minority language, must offer election materials in that language. It is up to voters to know this, as well as to understand that, should they require help at the voting booth, they can request it from a poll worker or bring someone with them to assist. The coalition behind Pa’ luego es tarde, ¡Vota! is fighting to eliminate those and other barriers to build a democracy that works for all Floridians no matter where they live, the language they speak, or the color of their skin. Another campaign objective is to reach Latino voters living in rural areas of the Sunshine State.
“Voters in rural areas usually do not receive the same level of attention as those closer to urban centers”, said Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Florida Campaign Manager at All Voting is Local. “Our campaign seeks to close the existing election information gaps by educating Latino voters in vulnerable communities ahead of such a critical General Election.”
Latinos and other minorities disproportionately work in non-salaried jobs that do not pay for time off to go to the polls on election day. The costs associated with voting, like lost pay, childcare, and transportation costs, are higher for minorities and the working poor.
“Our government ‘of the people’ works best when all voters are able to have their voices heard,” said Anjenys Gonzalez-Eilert, Executive Director of Common Cause Florida. “The right to vote is fundamental to our form of government – without it, we don’t have a ‘republic.’ So individual voters’ language skills or reading ability must not become a barrier to the free exercise of the right to vote.”
In addition, Soraya Márquez, State Director at Mi Familia Vota said “In the time of misinformation, our mission is to provide voters with accurate information in our native language. Early voting and vote by mail are safe options. We will educate Latinos all over the state how to properly vote early or by mail to make sure every vote counts and we protect democracy.”
The 2020 General Election marks the first time that Latinos will be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate, accounting for over 13 percent of eligible voters nationwide and a whopping almost 20 percent in Florida. For more information on Pa’ luego es tarde, ¡Vota!, visit paluegoestarde.com.