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Election Day Finds NY Union Targeting “Newly Interested” Latino Voters

November 1, 2010

NEW YORK - Local unions will be among those working hard to get out the vote Election Day Tuesday, and one union says a new poll points to a recent surge of interest among Latino voters. They were a big factor in the 2008 election, but some predicted an enthusiasm gap among Latino voters this year.

Not so, according to Hector Figueroa, Service Workers International Union 32BJ secretary-treasurer, whose local represents more than 70,000 janitorial, security, and building service works in New York. He says new poll numbers show the percentage of Latino voters who are very interested in this election jumped by almost 20 percent in the last two months.

"The need to see a good job, the need to really activate the economy again, education; those are really, really critical issues for Latinos."

Figueroa says the latest Latino Decisions tracking poll, released last week, finds 60 percent of Latinos say they are "very interested" in voting, compared to only 41 percent in early September. He says his union expects to have 1,000 volunteers working key precincts across the state.

Figueroa says one factor driving up interest in this election for Latino voters is the fact that some candidates, including many from the Tea Party movement, have spent a great deal of time casting immigrants in a negative light.

"It has the effect of driving more Latinos to the polls, because we feel that we are really an integral part of the American fabric and we want to participate."

Some say that while interest is up among Latino voters compared to two weeks ago it is at a lower level than it was in 2006, when nearly 90 percent of Latinos said they were determined to vote.

Figueroa says his volunteers will be working for candidates who support working families, health care, and a fair immigration system.

More on poll numbers is at www.politico.com

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY