Press Conference Friday, 3 p.m., Saginaw City Council Chambers
Media Contact: R. Morales (989) 293-4078, [email protected]
A voting registration campaign kicks off in Saginaw on Friday organized by a brand new Latino organization. The new non-profit group Latino Leaders for the Enhancement of Advocacy and Development—called LLEAD—launches a county-wide 2016 Voter Registration Campaign with a press conference Friday at 3 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1315 S. Washington Ave. Calling this effort to encourage all eligible voters to make their vote count, LLEAD organizers came up with the popular slogan “One Vote Does Matter”.
LLEAD is partnering with local organizations, political science faculty and students from Delta College and SVSU, volunteers from the League of Women Voters and other groups that support civic engagement.
“We are here to help all Saginaw residents get involved in their government and their community, to exercise their right to vote and make a difference in their world,” said Campaign Co-Chair Debbie Vasquez. “In an election year, we know that new voters need to register and learn the voting process. All voters need to be informed about the candidates, the issues, local ballot proposals and the importance of knowing that your vote can make a difference. LLEAD is reaching out to voters from all Saginaw communities, not only Latinos, with opportunities to participate. We may be the largest ethnic group in the U.S. with a population of 55.4 million, but our voting turnout could be better.”
National voting data from the Pew Research Center based on Census reports indicate that Michigan’s population is 5 percent Hispanic, about 452,00. That population could be higher due to undocumented residents, but those individuals cannot vote. In 2014 the Hispanic eligible voter population age 18 and older in Michigan was 213,000, the 18th largest Hispanic statewide eligible voter population in the U.S. That means 47 percent of Hispanics in the state are eligible to vote. It’s a young population, one-third of Michigan Hispanic eligible voters are ages 18 to 29, with hundreds reaching their 18th birthday every year. In Saginaw County, Hispanics make up 8 percent of the total population of 199,088. About 14.3 percent of the city’s total 49,844 population are Hispanics.
Vasquez, a member of the LLEAD strategic planning committee, said LLEAD board plans to obtain funding and expertise among Delta College and SVSU Political Science faculty to develop a survey or measurement tools to gather pertinent data on the Hispanic electorate at the city and county level, data which does not currently exist.
“Sometimes as voters we can get complacent or discouraged and think that my vote doesn’t count; that one more vote isn’t going to make a difference one way or the other,” said Campaign Co-Chair Andrea Sanchez. “Young people have a stake in this city—Saginaw—our city, and in Saginaw County, and our country. They are young leaders who to have a say in their future here. We have found that young people tell us they have more at stake than others because they’ll carry the burden of our failures or inaction,” she said.
Sanchez is the Community Development Specialist at Team One Federal Credit Union, 520 Hayden St. in Saginaw. Vasquez is a MAYSI specialist with the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority, working with at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system. She’s also the president of the Great Lakes Bay Region Hispanic Business Association.
Vasquez, Sanchez and campaign volunteers plan to be at local events to register voters and help people use the online process to find out their polling locations. In the past year some Saginaw City precincts have been combined or have changed polling sites.
Besides Debbie Vasquez and Andrea Sanchez, volunteer Monica Corriveau and Daniel Soza III are scheduled to speak at the Friday press conference. Soza is a LLEAD board member and director of Neighborhood House-Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, 3145 Russell St., Saginaw.
Sponsors supporting the project are Catholic Federal Credit Union and Team One Federal Credit Union in Saginaw.