This month, as part of a major push for electoral organizing by the Equal Voice Network of the Rio Grande Valley, LUPE will initiate a civic engagement campaign designed to build grassroots power through electoral participation. Unlike the normal get out the vote effort, that encourages people to vote and then disappears from the scene until the next election cycle, LUPE approaches voter registration and electoral participation as the first of many steps toward building grassroots power.
Year after year, issue after issue, colonia leaders and LUPE organizers have asked why our politicians do not take action in support of colonia issues. Politicians have answered, more or less eloquently, “Because you don’t vote.”
The initial stage of the effort is to engage with and build on indigenous colonia leadership, encouraging leaders to be active in voter registration and getting out the vote. During this stage, LUPE will provide colonia leaders lots of specialized training around electoral engagement, adding to the skills they have gained through past participation in organizing.
Of course we understand that unscrupulous politicians are all too happy to take our votes without giving us anything in return, which is why the second stage of the project is so important. Once colonia residents turn out to vote in record numbers, and voters are engaged with the political process, we can turn our focus to issue-based campaigns, and encourage community members to demand that politicians deliver on their promises.
Until early October colonia activists will focus on voter registration. After Oct. 3 we will shift focus to getting out the vote, especially in precincts with a history of low voter turn out.
On July 9th we will officially kick-off the voter registration campaign with a three-city voter registration drive. Please contact Martha Sanchez if you would like to become deputized and help us register voters on that day. You can also help us register voters in your own community. And if you are not registered to vote, please come by any one of the LUPE offices to do so. We have 6 deputized members and staff of LUPE ready to help you register.