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Rosario Dawson: “There Is a Sadness to the Latino American Voter”

Why the Latino vote is misunderstood.
 
 
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When it comes to the Latino vote, candidates often believe the best way to reach Latino voters is through Spanish-language media. But Rosario Dawson, actress and founder of Voto Latino, a non-partisan group that works to encourage Latinos to vote, said this is a common misconception.

On “The Gavin Newsom Show," Dawson said 79 percent of Latinos consume information in English. She said that Latino voters are on Facebook, Twitter and English-language news sites, learning about where the candidates stand.

Dawson said:

They are hearing what you are saying about them in English and then watching the same stuff in Spanish and going, 'wait a minute, you just said I was illegal a second ago and now you're trying to get my vote in Spanish? Wait a minute.' There is a sadness to the Latino American voter. If they get registered and vote, they have a lot to say and they are paying attention. They are definitely a big part of the conversation right now.

Mitt Romney has been calling undocumented immigrants “ illegals” for years, and has continued throughout his campaign. However, on his interview with Univision, a leading Spanish-language network, Romney called immigrant youth simply “kids [who] deserve something better than temporary. They deserve a permanent solution.”

Dawson said Voto Latino is using various tools to urge Latinos to cast their ballot, from apps and widgets to partnering with iTunes as well as celebrities for PSAs. She said financial support is still hard to come by:

Funds are tight and it’s really difficult to rally money around not a campaigner or a person or a prop. For some reason it seems people are able to get millions of dollars to support that. But it’s so difficult to raise money to reach out to the voters, which is kind of crazy if you really care about these propositions or candidates winning office.

Nearly 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote in this year’s election — up by four million since 2008. This record number of voters could influence the election. Most importantly, they make up a significant amount of the population in Florida and South Carolina, two swing states who have reported an increase in Latino voter registrations. If candidates want to garner support from this important group they must realize that their one interview on Univision empathizing with the Latino community isn’t going to do the trick.

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet.