El PASO – On election night as Donald Trump claimed victory in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and Hillary Clinton’s campaign drew to a close in defeat, I spent the evening with the El Paso County Democrats at their “victory” party. What started off as a hopeful event at the Camino Real hotel soon turned into a miserable affair. 6:40 p.m.: I arrive. There were already around 60 people gathered in the hotel’s grand Dome Bar. Drinks already flowing, the atmosphere was calm and relaxed.
Voters taking advantage of early voting in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, say they wanted to avoid the long lines on election day and were eager to cast their ballots for the “good of the whole community.” Early voting began Oct. 11 in New Mexico and runs through Nov. 5. In Texas it runs from Oct.
On the last week of voter registration, Claudia Perea, a 45 year-old housewife from Las Cruces goes door-to-door in neighborhoods with the largest numbers of eligible Latinos who are not registered to vote. Armed with a pen, voter registration forms and a clipboard, Perea took to the streets of Las Cruces and El Paso to register Latinos to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Perea is part of a voter registration drive conducted by Hillary for Las Cruces’ organizing office. “I help to recruit people to register to vote and target the Latino community heavily. I go door-to-door or to churches, parks and neighborhoods to try to register as many Latinos to vote as possible by Oct.
EL PASO – Like millennials elsewhere, young El Pasoans are distinguished by their historic low levels of civic and electoral participation. But a group of local political leaders and others have spent the last year in an aggressive campaign inside high school classrooms and auditoriums to help sign up 18-year-olds and get them to cast a ballot November 8. Spearheaded by the office of State Sen. José Rodriguez, the Student Voter Initiative deployed volunteers to 26 high schools in nine school districts over the last 11 months to talk to about 7,000 teenagers about the political process, civic engagement and the importance of voting. As a result of the high school campaign, 650 El Paso area students age 18 years and older are now registered to vote, according to Samantha Romero, office coordinator for Sen. Rodriguez
Claudia Yoli, Director of Community Affairs for Sen. Rodriguez, said of the initiative: “We wanted to let students know that Texas overall has a very low voter participation rate and,in our community, it can go as low as 10 percent during non presidential elections, so we want students to know that and change it.”
Related: Latino voter registration lags other groups
Immigration debate boosts voter registration on U.S. border
According to VoteTexas.gov, during the 2012 presidential election, there were 383, 737 registered voters In El Paso, County, and out of those only 171,070, or 44.58 percent actually voted. At the national level, Pew Research Center data shows that as April 2016 an estimated 69.2 million millennials (people between the ages of 18 – 35) were voting age U.S. citizens.
SUNLAND PARK – A couple of miles from Texas and less than a mile from Mexico, Carlos Juarez is serving the lunch crowd at the family business, Carlos Bakery/Panaderia. Signs for local candidates adorn the main business sign and the windows. The 28-year-old sees a definite difference in the 2016 presidential election compared with four years ago. “There’s no enthusiasm anymore,” Juarez said. “2012, from the Obama campaign, we had people coming out once or twice a week.
Filmmaker Galán honors Willie Velasquez’s Legacy in Latest PBS documentary in run up to Election 2016
Chicano filmmaker, Hector Galán documents the legacy of Willie Velasquez, the Mexican-American activist, who launched a grassroots movement that forever changed the political landscape in the United States in his Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary, Willie Velasquez: Your Vote is Your Voice.” The film breaks cultural barriers highlighting the importance of the Latino vote and was recently presented at The University of Texas at El Paso’s Union Cinema and was accompanied by a voter registration effort to honor Velasquez’s legacy. A production of Galan Incorporated and Latino Public Broadcasting, “Willie Velasquez: Your Vote Is Your Voice,” showcases the life of the man who led the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project and launched 1,000 voter registration drives in 200 cities. Velasquez paved the way for Latinos to have a voice in government and underscored the growing power of the Latino vote. Chicano independent filmmaker, Hector Galan directed the documentary shedding light on the Latino voting revolution.
EL PASO – This border city has seen an increase in nearly 50,000 eligible voters during this season’s contentious U.S. presidential campaign. Some political observers say the increase in local residents who have registered to vote in November’s election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton may be a reaction to Trump’s harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration as well as negative statements he’s made in public about people of color. Trump has called for building an impenetrable border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and having Mexico pay for it. During one primary campaign speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” “This is the first time time I will actually vote, so at 29 I actually had to learn what the registering process is,” said Jose Zubiate, an English major at UT El Paso.
Guns and showmanship – Seeing a Texas GOP debate watch party through the eyes of a study-abroad student
EL PASO, Texas – CNN reported that more than 80 million people tuned in to watch the Clinton-Trump debate on September 26, making it the most-watched presidential debate in history. It will also remain a day which will live long in my memory as my first real taste of a U.S. presidential debate watch. When I first arrived at the El Paso County Republican Party offices I was greeted with a man carrying a 12 gauge shotgun and a .44. Magnum marching Hilary Clinton around the offices. No, not the real Hillary, a masked version of the candidate.