HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The general election is two weeks away and political parties and other groups are working to get out the vote. In Hazleton, that effort includes ramping up efforts to turn out the vote from the Latino community.
Leaders of the Latino community in Hazleton say for one reason or another, Latino turnout has been low during recent elections. Efforts are underway to change that.
“We are helping people, educating people. We show how they have to vote and how to use the correct ballot,” said Victor Perez.
Victor Perez is president of the Dominican House in Hazleton. It helps new citizens adapt to their new country and community. Perez says the election process can be very intimidating for these new citizens and says the language barrier does present some challenges. They are taught how to vote in person and by mail.
“When they send the ballot to the people, they come over here to Dominican House. We help the people to return the mail-in ballot to the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections,” said Perez.
Perez admits that despite the growing Latino community, for one reason or another they either did not register to vote or if they did register—they did not vote. But he says he has heard a different tone this year.
“Right now they are motivated to say ‘Hello we are here we vote. We will decide who represents us.'”
Ricardo Santos owns several Mexican food restaurants in the Hazleton area. He says he encourages members of the Latino community to make sure their voices are heard.
“But those who are allowed to vote they should just go ahead and do it. You got the right. It’s one of our amendments for this country. Freedom of speech and elections,” said Santos.
There are other organizations across our region that help newer citizens navigate the election process and most county election bureaus have Spanish language videos and instructions for those who do not speak English.