A Birmingham community development and advocacy organization is working to galvanize Latino and immigrant voters ahead of upcoming elections.
The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) is currently running two campaigns through its Empowering Communities Program focusing on the 2020 Census and voter registration.
“We want them to vote if they are eligible. We have a very important election this year in November and we want our community to feel informed and empowered to go and vote,” said Micaela Oer, Civic Engagement Organizer.
Oer says that the pandemic has added a layer of complication to voter registration and education efforts.
“There’s a lot of misinformation around voting, not only in this community, but there are many rules that confuse the voter as well and with Covid-19, there is the additional barrier of security,” Oer said.
Diana Martinez, Education/Youth Organizer, says additional voting barriers exist for Latino and immigrant communities.
“Language is a big barrier. The fact that maybe in your home country you didn’t trust the government, then it’s like you have this uncertainty of I don’t know if I’ll go out to vote, I’ve had a bad experience in my home country,” Martinez said. “Identification is something else, sometimes especially the older community that is naturalized maybe doesn’t have a driver’s license.”
Martinez says they have had to adapt their community outreach efforts due to the pandemic.
“Pre-March, we were going to events to put our information tables and talk face-to-face with people and now we have to switch to a more digital platform and make ourselves available by phone,” Martinez said.
Facebook and Zoom are two main digital resources the organization is using, which Martinez says have both benefits and drawbacks.
“For me, the outreach has worked well with young people because the good thing is that they still understand technology a little bit, but for our slightly older community, they have difficulty connecting through these platforms,” Martinez said.
The organization is currently working on creating a guide in Spanish for voters for the November election to provide information and resources on the different candidates.
To find out more information on voter registration and the 2020 Census, visit HICA’s Facebook page.