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Fight back with votes? Group spotlights El Paso massacre to urge young Latinos to register

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The massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August is featured in an ad campaign urging young Latinos to register to vote for the 2020 elections.

The group behind the campaign says its research has shown that the attack, which left 22 people dead after a gunman told authorities he wanted to target “Mexicans,” is a somber but forceful catalyst for getting Latinos to see the power available to them at the ballot box.

Latinos who were not registered to vote showed greater interest in getting registered after watching ads that include a clip of video from the attack, according to the findings of Poder Latinx, a civil and social justice organization that is coordinating the ad campaign, which launched on Tuesday.

The campaign, dubbed Poder 2020, targets Latinos ages 18-35 who are not registered to vote. The ads will run digitally in specific states to start.

Next year, Latinos will be the largest nonwhite racial group of eligible voters. But some 15 million to 18 million Latinos from across the country and of all ages are not registered to vote.

“We have seen the Latino community increasing and we have seen Latino community participation at the ballot box, but it is still not enough,” said Ben Monterroso, a senior adviser to Poder Latinx. Other groups participating include America’s Voice, Latino Decisions, the League of United Latin American Citizens and Phone2Action.

Monterroso said about 6 million Latinos voted in 2016, while about 12 million did two years later.

In testing the ads, 25 percent of English and Spanish speakers in a control group who did not see the ads said it was extremely important to be registered, said Matt Barretto, cofounder of Latino Decisions, a Democratic polling firm that did the testing.

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But that number rose to 53 percent of English speakers after they saw the ad. In the Spanish speaking group who saw the ad, 33 percent said it is extremely important to register, and another 47 percent said it was very important.

“When exposed to the ad, people were responding and saying, ‘Yes, it is very important to be registered to vote,’” Barreto said.

In the Latino Decisions testing, majorities said they would share the ads with friends on social media, with a stronger likelihood among English speakers. Baretto said the ads’ themes had resonated across Latino subgroups — Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and others.

The feeling of being under attack is something everyone can relate to, he said.

The ad was done in English and Spanish by MAS Consulting. The ad in English opens with a young Latino saying: “Until now, I didn’t bother to register to vote. I was just a bystander listening, looking at all the hate speech,” while black and white clips of anti-immigrant protests and the chant “build that wall” play behind him.

It includes President Donald Trump at a rally where Trump describes immigration to the country as “an invasion” and asks, “But how do you stop these people?” A caption on the screen says “Shoot Them!” which is what reporters at the rally said they heard an audience member say. Trump and some attendees at the rally laughed off the comment.

Shortly after, the ad shows phone videos of the gunman firing inside the El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3. Twenty-two people died as a result of the shooting and another 26 were injured.

“We’re not powerless or helpless. We have the power. The power of our vote. We still have 15 to 18 million Latinos who are not registered to vote. ¿Que esperas? (What are you waiting for?)” the speakers say.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said the campaign’s message “gets it right.”

“The El Paso massacre is really a turning point in how Latinos are viewed in this country and if Latinos stand up … it will be the last time any political force decides to put a target on their back,” Sharry said.

Monterroso said the group has $15,000 to start posting the first month’s ads on social media; the group hopes to raise more money for the campaign.

Monterroso said the initial ads would be reaching half a million Latinos not registered to vote, but eligible to register in seven states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Different versions of ads will be rolled out, including one specific to Texas.

The group also created an option for Latinos to get information on voter registration by texting to a number. The Poder 2020 campaign will then send them information on whether they are registered and where to vote and notifications reminding them of important dates in the 2020 election.

Members of the group acknowledged the difficulty they face trying to register the millions of Latinos who are not registered, but Baretto said there is already work underway with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to register Latinos in Texas.

“That’s the first time you’ve seen that happen that early,” he said. “And it is not only going to happen in Texas. You are starting to see that investment. We need a lot more.”

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



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Nicola Sturgeon crisis: Scot leader admits party disputes a massive 'risk to SNP success'

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NICOLA Sturgeon has said the SNP needs to be united in its approach ahead of next year’s Holyrood elections.

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Eurocrats splurge £361k on medals to celebrate European Union – and Britons help pay

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EUROCRATS want to splash out £361,000 on medals to celebrate the European Union, Express.co.uk can reveal.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer met with Biden as running mate announcement nears

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Delaware last weekend for a private meeting with former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, two Democratic officials confirmed to NBC News.

News of the meeting was first reported earlier Friday by The Associated Press, which said that the meeting was Biden’s first known in-person session with a potential running mate.

The meeting lasted several hours, one of the two Democratic officials who confirmed the meeting said.

Biden had said he planned to make an announcement the first week in August, but aides later said that was unlikely. Whitmer declined to comment when asked about the meeting.

On Thursday, NBC News reported that Whitmer was among those still under serious consideration.

Democrats with knowledge of the process have said Whitmer did not recently re-emerge as a potential vice presidential pick but had long remained in Biden’s top tier.

Public speculation of a possible pick has also centered around Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., former national security adviser Susan Rice and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also in the running.

Michigan is a battleground state, and President Donald Trump narrowly won it in the 2016 election by around 10,700 votes.

Whitmer has earned the respect of Biden officials for her role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic — at times in the face of protests that included demonstrations outside the state capitol building in which some protesters were armed, and a tweet by Trump that read “Liberate Michigan!” in capital letters.

She elevated her public profile earlier this year by battling with Trump over the federal response to the pandemic.

Senior Biden campaign officials have made clear again in recent days that they believe the COVID-19 pandemic combined with Trump’s management of the crisis and the resulting economic fallout is the central issue of the fall campaign.

Phil Helsel contributed.



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