The 2012 Presidential Elections was important in more ways than just one. While it saw to the re-election of America’s first African-American President Barack Obama, the elections also highlighted a very interesting development in this country. The elections spotlighted the growing population of Latinos who live in this country and how they can be a force to make political changes.
According to an analysis on the exit polls made by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of Latinos who voted for President Barack Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney was 71% for the former and 27% for the latter. This number shows that for the first time since 1996, the national vote amongst Hispanic was at its highest for a Democratic candidate.
The findings made by Pew Hispanic Center also revealed that Latinos currently make up 10% of the electorate, and within battleground states that 10% can go a long wait for any candidate who can sway the Latino vote.
However, what is interesting to note is that while the number is 10% it could be so much higher if every Latino gets to the voting booth. But not all do. One example would be Latinos from the Dominican Republic.
In New York State there was an estimated 762,000 Dominicans living in the state. In the 2012 elections only 357,000 Dominicans were eligible to partake in the elections by casting their vote. While it may seem the number is too low considering Dominicans are one of the largest populations in the state, that “low” numbers is still very powerful when it comes to elections.
357,000 is a decisive number that could change the course of any election in New York State, and it just so happens that very number (with the possible growth to it since it was tallied back in 2012) could play a major role in the upcoming Congressional Primaries to be held on June 24th.
In about two weeks the Dominican vote may play a very important role when it comes to choosing the next congressman when Dominicans may vote in the first Dominican-American Congressman State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Espaillat could end up winning the primary when he faces incumbent Charles B. Rangel who has held the position since the early 70s.
And in an effort to get Dominicans to the voting booth and utilize their rights as citizens of this country, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) has embarked on a voter registration campaign to get the Dominican and Dominican-American voters of New York and Rhode Island into the voter booth.
“For too long, the Dominican–American community has stood on the side-lines without a voice while others made decisions that were impacting our community and our families,” said Manuel Matos. Matos is an attorney, community leader, and a board member and spokesperson for DUSA.
“It made perfect sense to start our focus in these two places where our community has lived, worked, and thrived for years, yet has not fulfilled its civic and political potential to have a say in the city’s political and policy affairs, ” Matos added, “Dominicanos USA will help ensure more Dominican Americans contribute their grain of sand on the American beachhead of civic and political responsibility.”
A non-partisan organization, DUSA is an organization established for the sole purpose of empowering, educating, and mobilizing Dominican-Americans to become registered voters who will eventually take part in elections. Currently, the group has said to have registered 21,000 voters in New York.
The group’s registration campaign is said to be financially backed by affluent Dominican family the Vicini who are known for being a big powerhouse in the sugar industry. The backing of DUSA is expected to cost the Vicini $3.5 million dollars because the family will be investing in the organization by 2016.
“We’re not concentrated on a particular candidate,” said Eddie Cuesta, DUSA’s Coordinator in New York.
In-addition to not being candidate-oriented, DUSA also acknowledged that while they are specifically seeking to get Dominicans registered to vote they will also register anyone else who is eligible.
“It’s a cross-section of the community,” added Cuesta. “We have touched every zip code in the city.”
In order to find Dominicans who are not registered, DUSA has relied on a combination of both old and new school tactics when it comes to getting Dominicans registered.
Using traditional canvassing methods by having their canvassers scouting known areas to contain a Dominican population, DUSA is also relying on using new technology in order to find Dominican voters. With data companies Catalist and Amicus aiding DUSA, the organization is hopeful in using the algorithms provided to identify where Dominican residents live.
“Wherever Dominicans are, we’ll find them,” said Cuesta.
According to DUSA’s representatives, the group’s canvassers have taken to all neighborhoods within New York City and would continue to do so to ensure every Dominican is registered before the May 30th deadline.
And now since the deadline has passed, DUSA will focus their effort into ensuring that Dominicans who are registered to vote go out to the voting booths on June 24th and cast their vote. Until then, we have to wait and see how powerful the Dominican vote can be.