SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — As the November midterm election draws near, some local groups are working hard to make sure the voices of the minority communities are heard.
“There’s a lot of doors to knock,” said Irvin Camacho.
The large number of doors to hit isn’t stopping Camacho and those with non-partisan, non profit, Fight Forward AR, from trying to get people registered to vote.
He spent a Sunday knocking on doors at a Springdale apartment complex along with Springdale City Council Ward 3 candidate Alice Gachuzo-Colin working to get people registered.
“Doesn’t matter what political party you support, where you come from or anything,” said Camacho. “You want to make sure that the voter base actually reflects the population of the state.”
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of eligible Hispanic voters in Arkansas grew by more than 30,000 people between 2010 and 2018.
Numbers from the 2018 midterm election show that less than 42% of Arkansas’ total eligible voter population showed up to vote. Camacho wants to see more of his Hispanic neighbors showing up to vote, so he meets them where they are.
“We have been going to all these different neighborhoods that politicians ignore or that people in general who are canvassing ignore, simply because they think it’s a dangerous place,” he said. “But that’s that’s a lot where like our communities are at, where our communities of color are at.”
He was able to get one person registered to vote on that Sunday excursion by walking him through the process in Spanish. For those who don’t answer the door, they leave resource flyers also in Spanish.
“We’re out here just trying to get as many people as we can registered,” he said.
Arkansas United is a local immigrant advocacy group that is also heavily invested in seeing communities of color show up at the polls.
“We have a citizenship program where we’re helping inform and accompany those newly naturalized citizens in the voting process,” said Mireya Reith, Founding Executive Director of Arkansas United. “But then also, we’re doing deep voter registration, especially with our youth and our new voters.”
Guadalupe Caballero focuses on engaging young voters who play an important role in the Hispanic community.
“A lot of the youth can actually vote and a lot of our parents cannot vote and it’s important that we’re able to use our voice to speak for them,” she said.
“Our local positions don’t equate to the offices that they have back home, so we’re finding ourselves, especially this year, that we’re having to do a lot of education,” said Reith.
All three said a lot of the hot-button issues the general population is concerned about are also high priority for Hispanic voters.
“Some sort of protection for immigrants and undocumented immigrants,” said Camacho. “They care about marijuana as well.”
“Gun rights and abortion are big topics,” said Caballero.
“The economy is definitely on the ballot,” said Reith. “A lot of our immigrant communities are here as economic migrants. Economy is also security for us.”
Reith said they are happy that a Fayetteville U.S. District Judge ruled in August that the state law forbidding one person from acting as a translator for more than six voters in casting their ballots is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
She said the language barrier can keep people from going to the ballot. However, she said Arkansas United will be volunteering at the polls to provide interpreters the two Saturdays before election day.
She wants legislators to know that the Hispanic and immigrant communities are ready to see action on all levels.
“Our community and our youth especially look forward to voting to making sure that not just they’re heard, but their whole families are heard through them,” she said.
October 11th is the last day to register to vote in order to be able to vote in the November midterm. Click here to register to vote.