Organizations help Hispanic voters understand the electoral process
Voting rights advocacy groups are helping Hispanic people in Central Washington understand the election process. Some citizens have not voted in past elections because they’ve had trouble understanding how to fill out and cast their ballots.
Organizations assist voters through civic engagement education, ballot parties and person-to-person outreach. The goal is for voters to make their own decisions.
Maria Berrospe voted for the first-time last August. She says civic education at La Casa Hogar, a non-profit organization in Yakima, made a difference in voting.
“For me, everything is new. When you have the ballot, there are a lot of things you don’t know and sometimes it’s hard for you to fill it out, but what we are learning is helping me a lot,” she said in Spanish.
Consuelo Rodriguez, the organization’s civic engagement assistant, said La Casa Hogar keeps people informed about the government positions at stake, how to know more about candidates and how to fill the ballots.
Another important aspect is bringing the election information closer to the Hispanic communities, she said.
“We help them read the ballot and try to clarify everything in our language, in our culture, because sometimes the ballot comes with terminology that is not easily understood by our people,” said Rodriguez.
The League of Women Voters of Yakima County works with non-partisan groups in the area.
President Lee Murdock said in an email that the organization has led candidate forums and has made accessible materials for different communities, not just in language but also cultural competency.
Increasing civic engagement and Hispanic voters’ participation is one of the challenges in the Yakima Valley. The 2022 primary election showed a slight increase of 4% in Spanish surnames voters‘ participation compared to the 2021 primaries when it only reached 8%.
This voter participation is still low considering the opportunities that Yakima redistricting has given the Hispanic voters, said OneAmerica organizer Audel Ramirez.
“Now their votes count even more; they’re able to now affect the change and really be the determining factor in a lot of the elections going on right now on the ballot,” Ramirez said.
Berrospe, who got her citizenship this year, thinks participating in this election is essential.
“My vote counts. If I want my community to improve, I have to cast my vote for change and improve the government,” said Berrospe.
Several organizations will hold ballot parties this Saturday to help voters around Central Washington to help more Hispanic voters.
Ramirez said it’s an opportunity to strengthen civic engagement.
“This is to create a community atmosphere around the practice of voting. And that way, people feel encouraged to continue participating in the future and know which organizations to reach out to if they ever need resources,” he says.
Communities Without Borders will have a ballot party from 1-5 p.m. Saturday at the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 1600 N. 20th Ave., Suite D, in Pasco.