Latinos make up 38% of Texas’ population, yet voter turnout among that group has consistently lagged behind others in the state for decades. Nationally, while a record 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 presidential election, 12.1 million did not, according to the Pew Research Center. A team behind the bilingual web-based series Your Vote, Tu Futuro aims to change that.
The eight-episode series, produced by Texas-based nonprofit design center buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bcWORKSHOP), covers topics such as the importance of voting, a basic overview of government and party structures, where to find candidate information, the Texas Voter ID law, and more.
At its core, the video campaign is meant to walk Latino voters through the voting process and provide them with the necessary resources to ultimately cast their ballot. Episodes have been released each week since July 22, and they can all be found on YouTube here, or on the project website here. The last two videos, which have yet to be released, will be about early voting and voting by mail.
Here is one of the videos in the series in English:
For the Spanish version, click here.
Dallas County Election Judge Rollin Gary and Jan Sanders, the widow of Federal Judge Barefoot Sanders who is famous for helping desegregate Dallas schools, both actively promote voter registration and participation. They approached the bcWORKSHOP with the idea for the series.
“There seemed to be a need for greater understanding and access to information around voting: the system, the process, and the greater value,” Sanders said in a statement. “My hope is that this series offers a foundation for individuals and families in which voting has not been a tradition, so that they feel comfortable and empowered to make their voice heard.”
Gary, who is the chair for the Latino Voter Engagement Community at his local church in Dallas, told the Rivard Report that when he talked to people at the polls, they said they were registered but didn’t know how to move forward with the voting process.
“They needed access to information, and I realized that the best way to impart that would be through video,” Gary said. “So I spent the last six years trying to find somebody to fund the production work. Finally a few months back, my wife mentioned the idea to Jan Sanders and she found the funding.”
Considering the growing Latino influence across the nation, motivating Latino voters to take to the polls could have serious impacts on election results. In Texas, 56% of Latinos identified as Democrats in 2012, and if that population participated in elections it would make Texas as competitive as Florida in statewide elections, according to the Texas Tribune.
The bilingual Your Vote, Tu Futuro initiative doesn’t affiliate with a particular political party,but rather focuses more on engaging one of the fastest growing demographics to exercise their right to vote.
“The point of this bilingual project, having separate videos in both English and Spanish, is so that you don’t have to rely on subtitles and you can get the full experience,” said bcWORKSHOP Senior Media Associate Craig Weflen, who is also the producer of the web-based series.
Your Vote, Tu Futuro is not only for first time voters, Weflen said, but for anyone who wants to learn more about the voting process, has questions, or is interested in learning something new.
“We have a video about where you can find fact-checked, nonpartisan information online,” Weflen added. “Then there’s another one that’s a walk through at a polling place – how to use all the equipment, how to cast your vote – that way people can watch what it would be like.”
Gary said that most polling stations have bilingual clerks or translators, “and that’s something that we show in the video. We do stress that you don’t have to be a native Spanish speaker to go to the polls and be able to cast a ballot.”
bcWORKSHOP had to remake the series’ Texas Voter ID law video and extend its release date, Weflen said, due to the recent federal appeals court ruling that said the list of specific ID types needed to vote were restrictive and discriminatory. Now there is an additional list of types of identification you can use to vote, Weflen said, and it has opened up the process for a lot of people.
“Since the early ’80s, the Latino demographic has had a significantly lower turnout rate when it comes to voting, so there is a big opportunity here,” Weflen added. “If we are going to focus our efforts somewhere, this is the biggest opportunity to make their voices heard.”
Top image: Voting signs are posted outside Bowden Elementary School. Photo by Scott Ball.