For the first time in decades, the California primary means something.
Bernie Sanders is still clinging to the hope of making a good showing in the election that could propel him into the Democratic Convention to make a case he is a viable presidential candidate.
Hillary Clinton wants to cement her position as the Democratic nominee for the November election, where she would face off against Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, a maverick and political novice who broke all the rules and expectations on his way to beating his rivals.
Trump, who has antagonized minorities and women with his rhetoric, has had another effect on the campaign — a surge in citizenship and new voters among Latinos.
Getting Latinos to go to the polls on June 7 — or simply remind them that there’s a primary election that day — has been the pursuit of Maria Elena Hernandez and Carolina Moran the past month.
The two mothers, who live in Canoga Park, volunteer for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) who, along with paid staff, are visiting voters’ homes in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles, reminding people about the importance of casting their ballot.
The effort continues this week and through Election Day, next Tuesday.
“Everyone who comes out makes a difference,” says Moran, who’s lived in the country for 11 years.
Both Hernandez and Moran cannot vote and wish they could. They are worried about what could happen to the immigration programs pushed by President Obama that are currently on standby until the Supreme Court makes a decision on the extension of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability), which benefit an estimated 5 million undocumented migrants — as well as the possibility of other immigration reforms — and decided to do their part by getting people to the polls.
“This is our vote,” said Hernandez, who said that a Trump presidency is a “scary proposition.”
She encouraged two of her brothers who have lived in the country for more than 30 years and are legal residents, to finally become citizens and register to vote.
She will push them to cast their ballot on election day, just like she was doing on Saturday, May 28, visiting Pacoima voters in their homes.
But registering to vote does not necessarily mean casting a ballot on Election Day. It’s an issue that has been a problem for several years.
Of the 24 million eligible Latino voters in 2012, less than half (48 percent) showed up to vote – a figure that has remained relatively unchanged over the last four presidential elections, and is on par with how non-Hispanic whites voted in the 2010 midterm elections.
In 2016 there is a record 27 million eligible Latino voters. How many will register and vote in November is still anybody’s guess.
Hernandez and Moran don’t advocate for any candidate or issue. Their job is simply to remind people to vote.
Obviously, they would like voters to support candidates who can push for laws and programs that could help them.
“We want to make sure that votes support immigrants, and maybe there’s an immigration reform, because not everyone has benefited by the (President’s) executive actions,” said Moran, who last year joined a group of 100 women who walked 100 miles from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., where they asked Pope Francis to advocate for an immigration reform during his visit the United States.
“We want everyone to have their say in every election,” said Diana Colin, CHIRLA’s civic engagement director. “But, especially for Latino immigrant voters, this primary and general election represents a chance to shift the balance of power and have our national leaders take notice of our issues.”
Mayra Navarrete agrees.
Last Saturday, Navarrete was visited in her Pacoima home by Hernandez and Moran.
“I always vote. Votes count,” Navarrete said.
“I’m looking to see if it helps with immigration, and the Hispanic people. I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for, but definitely not Donald Trump. He’s not good for our community.”
Roberto Mendez, another Pacoima voter who received a visit, also plans to cast his ballot.
“It’s every citizen’s duty to vote and make our intentions heard,” said Mendez, adding he’s voted since the “Reagan days.”
That’s what CHIRLA volunteer Moises Alfaro likes to hear as he goes door-to-door reminding voters of the coming election.
“There’s people who can and don’t vote and that’s wrong,” Alfaro said. “Maybe they don’t do it because they’re not informed or not interested. That’s why we have to encourage them and let them know it’s their right to go and participate.
“It’s the only way they’re going to count us and treat us as a person with rights who contributes to this country.”