How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More attempts to dissuade Latino voters reported

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Outside a polling place today in Bell, Calif.

Two weeks after news broke of an unaired ad campaign urging Latinos not to vote, efforts to dissuade Latinos from the polls have reportedly continued into the eleventh hour.

Election Protection, a polling watchdog group, has told the Associated Press that about two dozen Los Angeles residents have received automated calls in Spanish and printed mailers instructing them not to vote until tomorrow, the day after the midterm election. An official from the group said it's believed that most of the calls and mailers have been received since yesterday morning.

Some voters in Bell, a city in southeast Los Angeles County that is more than 90 percent Latino, reported receiving similar calls recently. Father and son Porfirio and Irving Quijada, both of Bell, said this morning at their polling place that they had received an anonymous voicemail message about two weeks ago urging them not to vote, and that others in their neighborhood had received calls like this, too.

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At the polls in Bell, voters are still smarting

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Voters lined up this morning outside a polling place at the Iglesia de Dios church in Bell, Calif.

Is the political corruption that scandalized Bell a few months ago helping drive voter turnout there today?

Poll workers at one of two polling places set up at the Iglesia de Dios church in eastern Bell, a city that is more than 90 percent Latino, said this morning that it was too early to tell if voter turnout was any bigger than in previous election years, but noted that some voters had asked if they could vote for city officials in this general election.

They can't - a recall election for the mayor, vice mayor and one city council member is scheduled for March - but some voters outside the polling places in Bell today were smarting nonetheless. Voters said they were angry over the fiscal mismanagement and inordinately high salaries that landed eight city officials in jail earlier this fall, as well as the city's jacked-up property taxes, the second-highest rate in the county.

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Q&A: Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar on the voting power of U.S.-born Latinos

Photo by buschap/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A bilingual after-voting sticker, February 2008

No one is more familiar with the power of the Latino vote, considered pivotal in tomorrow's midterm election, than the organizations working to get Latino voters to the polls.

Unlike some groups that focus outreach efforts on Spanish-dependent immigrants, Voto Latino focuses on younger Latinos who are U.S-born and English-dependent, employing popular culture and social media in its outreach. The nonprofit was co-founded in 2004 by actress/activist Rosario Dawson and its executive director, Maria Teresa Kumar. Since then the organization has registered tens of thousands of voters.

Born in Colombia, Kumar has been named by PODER Magazine as one of the most notable 20 U.S. Hispanics under 40 years old. She is a political contributor to MSNBC and has also appeared on CNN’s AC 360 and American Morning, NPR, Telemundo and CNBC.

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