With less than half of all eligible Hispanic voters taking part in the last presidential election, Midland County, Texas, Republicans are hoping to spread the word about the importance of participating in the political process.
Volunteers from the Midland County Republican Women and other community organizations will host the "Despierta tu Voz" or "Wake up Your Voice" rally from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Fiesta Fairgrounds.
Julio Hernandez, who helped organize the event, said many of his Hispanic counterparts don't vote because they don't know much about the process.
Hernandez said more education is needed about how to register for and participate in elections and how to learn about potential candidates.
"A lot of (Hispanics) don't go vote because they don't know the process," Hernandez said. "Some of them don't know the language. They aren't registered and they don't know what to expect. Here they can actually meet the different candidates and representatives."
During the rally, Sen. Kel Seliger, Rep. Mike Conaway and Supreme Court Justice David Medina will speak and also be available to answer questions and talk with residents about Midland issues.
U.S. House Rep. Francisco Canseco, who will face Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, in November, also will be in attendance as will Charlie Garza, state board of education member, and Eric Garza, vice chairman of the Latino National Republican Coalition.
In the 2008 presidential election, about 49 percent of registered Latinos voted, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Non-Hispanic whites voted at a rate of about 66 percent and blacks at a rate of about 65 percent, the data show.
Of those Hispanics who voted, 67 percent supported President Barack Obama and 31 percent voted for John McCain.
Hernandez said most people assume that because he and his wife, Abigail, are Hispanic that they're Democrats. Some of their peers, he said, either don't associate with a specific party or say they are Democrat because they don't believe the Republican Party aligns with their values.
However, Hernandez said the Republican Party and its conservative principles are exactly what he and many others are concerned most about, particularly when it comes to the West Texas energy industry.
Hernandez said rally participants certainly may find they identify more closely with the Democratic Party. Rally organizers just want information about both options to be available, he said.
"To me, that's the most important thing," he said. "Registering to vote and teaching them what to expect, whether they vote Democrat or Republican."
Charlene Romero McBride, also a rally organizer, said in addition to raising awareness in the political arena, the rally also is meant to be a fun evening for families.
There will be music, food, and, for children, face painting.
"It's more of a fiesta," Romero McBride said.
Additionally, a mini-job fair and a health information area will be set up.
Officials will be available to help parents prepare "kid print" sets that will contain their child's fingerprint, DNA and photo. The information is provided to help parents better locate their children in the case of an emergency or missing-child case.
Despierta Tu Voz
5-11 p.m. Saturday
511 E. Interstate 20
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