It's Election Day: Will Latino Voters Turn Out Post Sandy?


According to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the polls are open and ready for voters but the question remains, are the voters ready to vote after the travails of Superstorm Sandy? Latino politicians are urging voters to get out.
The two U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy, have said the state’s cities are a must win for them. Further complicating Murphy’s chances are a need for a strong Latino turnout. What will Latino turnout be in cities like Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven that were hard hit in last week’s storm?
Gerry Garcia, former candidate for Secretary of State and former alderman on the New Haven City Council, said, “What I’ve seen in the cities is that the organizations are pretty strong. New Haven has done an outstanding job of working with residents doing voter IDs. We feel very confident we will get out the vote today.”
Only two polling places in Connecticut are without power. In Bridgeport, Longfellow School is without power. Voters are being directed to the AquaCulture School, 60 St. Stephens Road, Bridgeport. In New London, voting at Ocean Beach Park has been moved to Harbor School, 432 Montauk Ave., New London.
Tomas Reyes, president of the CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus, said,  “We concerned on a variety of levels, because of the lack of power we’ve had, and people’s psychological reaction to the storm change people’s first priority. We are pushing real hard to let our people know his is a very important election both nationally and for Connecticut.
“We’ve got people that have been canvasing in all the major cities for Murphy’s campaign. We’ve done some work in smaller cities as well, like Danbury, Norwalk, and Willimantic to get our people to get out the vote,” Reyes added.
“Nationally we have two candidates that represent very, very different approaches to cities and historically the role of government has been critical in providing our community with opportunities.”
Edwin Vargas, Democratic candidate for 6th House District, which represents a portion of South Hartford, said, “I know it’s a sacrifice when you are in a middle of a crisis like people in Bridgeport.  The election is the last thing in on your mind when you are thinking about food and shelter.  However, it’s very important that people make the extra effort to make sure they vote because this election is very important to the long term future of Connecticut cities.”
Malvi Garcia-Lennon, a Republican running in the 2nd State Senate District, said she thinks turnout will be high away from the shoreline sections of Connecticut. “I have a feeling people are tired of the way things are going,” she said. “Unemployment of Latinos is higher than the national average. The sense I get when I go door to door is people are tired of unemployment and substandard schools. I think the passion is there for people to get out and vote.”
She emphasized how important is for Latinos to vote. “The Latinos have to get out to vote,” Garcia-Lennon said. “If I win tomorrow, I will be the first Latina in the state senate. We need more Latinos and women.” Andres Ayala, a Democrat running in the 23rd Senate District, is widely expected to become the first Latino elected to the state senate.
Vargas added a more practical reason for voters to turn out. “We saw for example the response of the Obama administration to this storm and the Bush administration’s response to Katrina. That s just an example of how this administration cares about people and puts people first and we need that for the future of our cities, our state and nation,” he said.
Victor Diaz, deputy commissioner, state Department of Motor Vehicles, issued an appeal to fellow Latinos. The Waterbury politician said, “The time is now. Make yourself count. Please come out and vote. Continue to make our dreams of making this community a better place to live for all of us.”
According to the Secretary of State’s office, since Jan. 1, more than 200,000 new voters have registered in Connecticut. The total number of active registered voters in Connecticut is 2,089,311 – just shy of the all-time record of active registered voters measured prior to the 2008 presidential election.
“We have seen a real surge of interest in this election in the last six weeks – more than 100,000 Connecticut citizens have become newly registered voters since the end of September and I think this is a very encouraging sign,” said Merrill, Connecticut’s chief elections official, at a news conference. “It is very civic minded to register to vote – but now is the time to make your voice heard by casting a ballot. It is also very encouraging to see the largest group of our new voters is our young voters between the ages of 18-29. ”