Jun 01, 2012.
What do Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, Pitbull and Mana have in common? You.
They're all part of the growing effort to get Latinos to vote. Especially young Latinos.
The latest is America Ferrera, ABC's "Ugly Betty," the American version of "Betty la fea." Her cleverly titled campaign, under the auspices of Voto Latino, is called "America4America." It's a civic engagement drive, aimed at educating young Hispanics about key issues in the upcoming presidential election and motivating them to get involved in the process.
"I think it's so important for all voters to know what issues affect their lives and vote on an educated basis,” Ferrera told NBC Latino, "of which candidates are out there being advocates for what's important to you out there for you."
In a video message on the America4America.org homepage, the actress says that new registration restrictions prompted her to get involved. "It's our chance to push back against these new rules and making sure Latinos are empowered to register, vote and make a different on Election Day."
The announcement came the same day that a federal appeals judge and the U.S. Justice Department stepped in to block Florida's voter registration restrictions and the state's much-criticized purge of voter rolls. Critics contended the restrictions disproportionately impacted Hispanics and blacks. In multiple cases, the clearing of the voter rolls erroneously identified U.S. citizens as non- citizens.
Ferrera offers a new face in Voto Latino's ongoing celebrity-backed push to involve young Hispanics. Actress Rosario Dawson is the organization’s co- founder and one of its principal spokeswomen.
"One of the things we're really excited about with Voto Latino is that we connect," she told the Huffington Post. “We have been really great with our messaging and the reason that our organization has grown over all of these years -- especially in this economy and with a lot of organizations shutting down -- it has been a really amazing thing to see how people have been connecting with our messaging and understanding that when we're saying 'it's your country, represent!' that we really mean it. We're really talking to them like they're Americans and I think that's the most crucial part -- because that's what they feel like. That's who they are -- including the DREAMers."
The group has also gotten the support of musical artists Pitbull and some 35 other artists who donated their music to help support the organization’s voter education drive. Mana partnered with Voto Latino on its latest concert tour, offering non-partisan voter registration at its tour venues.
The goal is to get members of the fastest growing demographic group in the United States to vote in numbers that reflect their increasing percentage of the population. An estimated 50,000 Latinos turn 18 and become eligible to vote every month. Yet, fewer than half are registered to vote. That’s a dramatically low percentage compared to other segments of the population. By comparison, nearly four out of every five non-Hispanic whites and 60 percent of blacks are registered.
At a Washington, D.C., press conference Thursday announcing Ferrera's participation, Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino’s co-founder and president, said the goal is to "keep it real and make it personal."
"We’re going to go there because politicians have made it personal," she said. "When they use anti- immigrant rhetoric to stoke anxiety and gain votes, when they propose policies that frankly consist of nothing more than racial profiling, they've made it personal. Because when they are talking about immigrants we understand, that they are talking about us. They are talking about our families."
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