“In the past, we were described as the sleeping giant, but the giant has awakened. Now we have to show that power.” - Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos
While the Republican candidates battle over who can take a harder line on immigration, Univision, the country's number one Spanish language network, has launched an all-out effort to register new Hispanic voters.
Eleven million Latino voters went to the polls in the last presidential election. According to the New York Times, that's about half the number who were eligible. Now, Univision is determined to sign up three million of those could-be voters - that's equal to the number of how many new Latino voters have come of age since 2012.
The Univision campaign will include:
- A deluge of ads encouraging viewers to get registered on all of its 126 local television and radio stations and on its sports channel, Univision Deportes.
- Station managers are planning to record public service announcements about how and where to sign up.
- The news division will issue an online voter guide which will be updated throughout the campaign season.
- Town hall meetings and telephone banks will be held to answer questions, dispel rumors and address concerns, of new voters, many of whom are not only casting their first ballot, but the are first in their families to be able to vote.
- This summer, Univision plans to hold voter drives near the stadiums hosting the Copa América soccer tournament. They will also air public-service announcements during its broadcasts of those matches to millions of viewers.
"The rule is no one can make it to the White House without the Hispanic vote,” said Jorge Ramos, the network’s superstar news host. “That’s why Latino registration is incredibly important. Just a few votes in Nevada, Florida and Colorado could make or break any candidate.”
The Univision voter drive will attempt to simplify the voting process, "with no basic knowledge assumed."
“When most Latinos become voters, they’re likely to be the first in their families,” said Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza. “Things that seem simple, like where do I register, what do I need to know, what do I need? It’s a pretty big task.”
While Univision executives says the voter campaign non-partisan, Republicans complain this get-out-the-vote effort is tantamount to a Democratic voter drive, pointing out that more than 70% of Latino voters supported President Obama over Mitt Romney in 2012. Both political parties began the campaign season hoping to expand their Latino voter base, but Donald Trump's deportation pronouncement and the wall he says he will make Mexico pay for, scared most of the Republican candidates into taking a hard line on immigration, making the search for new Republican Latino voters difficult.
"The real challenge is to convince Latinos to go out and vote," explained Jorge Ramos, "and what is really interesting is that maybe Donald Trump is doing that. Young voters, especially those who are turning 18 and are young, they are telling me that they are getting involved because of Donald Trump. Not because they like Donald Trump, but because they want to vote against him.”
Univision will be intricately involved in the upcoming presidential campaign, sponsoring a Democratic debate on March 9 and a forum with the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees July 14. It will also back a series of swing-state polls on the candidates and issues.
Univision sees its mission not just to inform and entertain, but to “empower the Hispanic community."
Photo is from Jorge Ramos Facebook album