Poor Latinos in San Bernardino are in a tough spot—they are a growing population, both in numbers and in influence, yet they fall dramatically short of their fellow County residents in voter registration and election day turnout. An obvious solution is a ramped up effort to sign up Latinos to vote and turn them out for elections, but who should take the lead in contacting and working with these groups? That is the central question over a growing debate in San Bernardino, where groups are pressuring the County Registrar’s office to increase outreach efforts to potential Latino voters, while Republicans pressure the Registrar to stay out of it. Targeting voter outreach to Latinos, argues the San Bernardino County Republican Party, shows bias towards Democrats since those Latinos are more likely to lean liberal. The Registrar seems inclined to agree with the Republican Party, much to the chagrin of Latino activists who argue that Latino voters are underserved. How can more Latinos be encouraged to register to vote without igniting a political fight?
Tom Rivera, associate dean for undergraduate studies at Cal State San Bernardino & a member of the San Bernardino County Registrar’s Bilingual Advisory Committee
Bobbi Jo Chavarria, a community organizer with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment; she running for Mayor of Fontana