KNIGHTDALE, N.C. – According to the State Board of Elections, about 51% of registered voters went to the polls in 2022 in North Carolina compared with about 75% voter turnout during the 2020 presidential election. El Pueblo, a nonpartisan nonprofit, is working to increase voter participation this year, and volunteers are trying to reach Spanish-speaking voters.
Over the last decade, the Spanish-speaking population has grown tremendously in North Carolina, but the voting process can be hard to understand if English isn’t your first language.
Lena Miranda is one of the community organizers with El Pueblo that has spent time canvassing neighborhoods around Wake County.
“I think it can get kind of discouraging to think that my vote matters. But I definitely know that it does, especially when it’s these local elections,” Miranda said. “For me, I love talking to people. So when someone's home and trying to see what actually they care about.”
Volunteers like Miranda are looking to reach Spanish-speaking voters, using public records to figure out where to door-knock.
“We want to encourage people to vote to get out their voices, especially this is a municipal election, which is kind of neglected sometimes because it's in the odd years,” Miranda said. “We know these elections are important because it's things like mayor and the city council, and these are the folks who are making decisions that are going to affect their daily lives. So we want to make sure that the Latino voices are getting out there and getting heard.”
According to the State Board of Elections, as of Oct. 28, 35,016 Hispanic voters were registered in North Carolina. Miranda thinks overall voter registration and participation aren't as high as they could be, and that includes Spanish speakers.
“Even if you're registered to vote in the, especially, the Latino population, they haven't voted historically,” Miranda said.
She says some factors can make the process seem intimidating.
“Getting registered to vote or eligibility to vote and also language access. So I think there's some obstacles as well,” Miranda said.
By speaking the same language as the voters they’re trying to reach, Miranda says the volunteers are helping ensure everyone feels involved in the democratic process.
“Someone isn't really comfortable with English, right, then you let your guard down with someone who speaks the language and can understand you. I think that's with anything,” Miranda said.
El Pueblo created a nonpartisan Spanish-language voter guide with information about ballots, voter ID, offices up for election and more. The organization is continuing voter outreach efforts through Election Day.
If you have questions about the voting process, visit the Board of Elections website.