A Latinx advocacy group celebrated Cinco De Mayo by launching a virtual campaign to register thousands of voters in battleground states, including North Carolina, for the November election. 

The activists say that based on North Carolina’s recent electoral history, their third annual Voto de Mayo event could be a game-changer in this year’s presidential election.

“In 2016, the same number of Latino voters who were eligible but did not participate in the election could have turned the state against Trump,” Mijente said in a press release.

Mijente is a national grassroots group that has been organizing Latinx and Chicano communities since 2015. Voto de Mayo is part of the group’s effort to “engage the growing number of Latinos, register them to vote, and get them to turn out on Election Day,” according to the press statement.

“We unseated one of the most racist sheriffs in the country with our campaign against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2016,” the group said in the release. “After that, we endorsed and ran a campaign to elect Georgia’s Stacey Abrams for governor.”

Abrams narrowly lost, but only after 1.4 million Georgia residents were purged from voters rolls and thousands more saw their registrations put on hold while nearly half of the state’s precincts and voting sites were closed by her opponent, Brian Kemp, then the secretary of state.

Mijente says its organizing work in Georgia during Abrams’s candidacy increased the Latinx vote by 300 percent. Abrams is now considered among Joe Biden’s potential vice presidential picks. 

The activists say COVID-19 has aggravated problems that Latinx communities were already contending with, including ICE raids at workplaces and the ongoing threats of detention, deportation, and family separation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating Latinos disproportionately,” said Mijente political director Tania Unzueta in the release. “[President] Trump’s actions are costing our families their lives. In the wake of his negligence, it is our responsibility to reshape, adjust our organizing tools to this new reality, and build the political infrastructure that will mobilize and turnout Latinos to vote him out in November.”

The groups report that Latinos comprise nearly 3 percent of North Carolina’s registered voters, but more than 200,000 Latinos are not registered to vote.

“Increasing the number of Latino registered voters is the first step to show that Latinos can make a difference in state and local elections and play a key role in removing Trump from office,” the organizers said.

“In North Carolina alone, volunteers made over 10,000 calls” on Tuesday from Greensboro, Charlotte, Hickory, High Point, Durham, Winston-Salem, Burlington, and Raleigh, the organizers reported. 

Contact Thomasi McDonald at tmcdonald@indyweek.com. 

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