Clinton campaign launches early voting drive in Latino churches

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, meets with people at an event to speak with young immigrants,
or so-called “dreamers” and their families at a campaign office Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

September 25, 2016

The Clinton campaign is launching a church-based voter mobilization drive aimed at Latinos called “Fe en Nuestro Voto,” or Faith in our Vote, this month in at least nine states.

Sen. Tim Kaine will lead a roundtable with faith leaders in Orlando Monday to kick off the program aimed at boosting turnout among Latinos, who overwhelmingly back Hillary Clinton over her rival Donald Trump but have historically turned out in lower numbers than white or black voters.

In Virginia, Iowa, Florida, Nevada and North Carolina, Clinton campaign organizers will descend upon Latino churches and encourage parishioners to register to vote during “Domingos de Acción” — Sundays of action. They will also encourage the faithful to vote early, organizing carpools to in-person voting sites in the coming weeks. The campaign plans to deploy its surrogates to fan out to Latino churches as well.

The program seeks to replicate the success of “Souls to the Polls” — a program among African-American churches that organizes buses to take parishioners to the polls after church services in states that allow early voting. A greater share of black voters cast their ballots via early in-person voting than any other ethnic group.

In 2012, more than a quarter of all voters cast their ballots either in person or via mail before Election Day, and that share is expected to grow this year. Two-thirds of all states allow early voting, including crucial swing states like Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada and Florida. (In Florida, half of all ballots in 2012 were case before Election Day.) North Carolina’s state legislators attempted to quash early Sunday voting this year but were blocked by a federal court.

“Domingos de Acción is a call to action for members of the Latino faith community to educate, register, and mobilize voters every Sunday leading up to Election Day,” Lorella Praeli, the Clinton campaign’s Latino Vote Director, said in a statement. The program “seizes on the unique opportunity Sundays provide for faith leaders to come together and educate the faith community about the stakes in this election and the importance of voting,” she added.

This Sunday in Iowa, Clinton campaign representatives will address three Latino church congregations about in-person early voting, which begins next week in the swing state. In Florida, the campaign will hold Sundays of Action at about 15 Latino churches every week, registering voters until the Oct. 11 deadline and then raising awareness about early voting, which starts in late October. In some churches, faith leaders will organize carpools to take parishioners to the polls.

Latinos, who back Clinton over Trump by a 50-point margin nationally, vote at significantly lower rates than white and black voters. Targeting them at their churches could lift participation and help Clinton win.

“If you can take their hand as you’re walking out of the pew and walk them right over to the voting location, that is perhaps the most powerful way to mobilize people to vote,” said Chris Mann, a political science professor at Skidmore College.

The Clinton campaign has also sought to expand upon Obama’s success with early voting in his 2008 and 2012 victories, pushing Democrats in the states that allow it to get their votes in early by mail or in-person, if possible.