By Todd Thurwachter:
Ahead of the Nov. 6 election, Democrats have made a sustained effort to register and educate Latino voters in Fairfax County – who now constitute 16% of the population, and are heading higher.
The campaign has contacted tens of thousands in Fairfax and neighboring counties, led by the Voter Registration & Education Committee of Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC).
The project began last May with printing and distributing 5,000 voter information cards in Spanish, “Todo Sobre el Voto” (click here to view).
The cards, and other information in Spanish on voting, were also posted on the FCDC website. Also available in Spanish, for the first time, is the free Election Alerts service, which sends emails to subscribers before every election with key information including a sample ballot.
Committee Chair Janice Yohai also created and launched a special Latino outreach pilot program for Back-to-School-Nights in September. The committee targeted 16 Fairfax schools with over 50% Latino populations, mostly elementary schools, and recruited 13 Spanish speaking volunteers, who engaged close to 1,000 Latino parents of schoolchildren.
Moreover, the committee mounted a registration blitz in August aimed at accessible condos/apartments in heavily Latino areas, particularly in Congressional District 10 where Va. Sen. Jennifer Wexton is campaigning to oust Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. Led by Matt Regan, joining from Maryland, over 50 volunteers handed out 20,000 bilingual voter education cards at 128 apartment complexes.
The campaign also included participation in public events like the Manassas Latino Festival on Sept. 23 (together with Virginia Democracy Forward) and the Fall Family Fiesta on Oct. 21 organized by Fairfax County School Board member Dalia Palchik (Providence), and hosted by David E. Broder, president of Service Employees International Union 512, to highlight the important and growing role of Latinos in Fairfax County politics.
The Latino registration and education campaign rests on a simple but important truth: ¡Juntos podemos!
Todd Thurwachter, a retired Foreign Service Officer, has canvassed since returning from Beijing in 2009, serving since 2013 on the FCDC Voter Registration & Education Committee. He is a member of Providence District Democratic Committee.
Main image: Celebrating Latinos in politics at the Fall Family Fiesta (L-R) are host David Broder, Fairfax County School Board Member Ryan McElveen (at-large), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, School Board Member Dalia Palchik (Providence), School Board Member Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill District), Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee District), and state Del. Marcus Simon (D- 53).