On February 9, Allied Latino Organization (OLA for its acronym in Spanish) met at the Heartland Workers Center (HWC) office to discuss and formalize its work plan for the 2012 Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign. Forty participants were present, representing organizations from Omaha, such as the Latino Forum, Intercultural Senior Center, and Mujeres Activas, as well as from Lincoln, such as Nebraska Appleseed and the Latino American Commission.
With 2012 being an election year, citizens will not only vote for the President of the United States, but also for senator, state legislators, and other local positions. It is a time when we, as citizens, will choose those who will make decisions at all levels that will affect our lives. For that reason, it is ever more important that the Latino/a community make its voice heard and head to the polls in May and November.
The Latino/a community in Nebraska has been growing steadily since the 1980s. From 1990-2000, the population grew by 155%, making up 5.5% of the state’s population. By the end of 2010, according to the U.S. Census, Latinos/as grew by 77% in that ten-year period, now constituting 9.2% of the population. Yet, while these numbers are steadily increasing, especially due to natural increase (birth and death rates), they do not mean anything in regards to political power unless the citizens within this population go out and vote.
With that in mind, the organizations that make up OLA met to discuss how they could work together to promote, educate, and inform both citizens and non-citizens alike about the electoral process, the importance of voting, and the positions of the candidates. Subsequently, as a result of this work, citizens will head to the polls, confident about whom to vote for because they have the information they need to make an informed decision.
Marta Sonia Londoño Mejía, Executive Director of Midlands Community Development Corporation (MLCDC), presented a proposed action plan for L-Voto (Latino Vote). The plan is broken down into five specific goals:
1. Register 300 voters before the primary elections in May 2012
2. Register 1000 voters before the general elections on November 6, 2012
3. Support 100 people in the process to become naturalized citizens before the general elections
4. Educate 10,000 people about the importance of voting, and both the voting and legislative processes
5. Educate and empower approximately 40,000 Latinos/as to vote through the use of media and social networks.
In order to make these goals a reality, committees were formed: Voter Registration, Naturalization, Voter Education, and Mass Communication. Each committee will focus on its area and share the information with other committees in order for it to be disseminated throughout Omaha and Nebraska.
The next OLA meeting for all participants will be held Thursday, March 1 at 6:30PM in the HWC office. For more information, call the HWC office at 402.933.6095.