Getting Hispanics to the Polls

Voto Latino Launches Backyard Effort

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NEW YORK ( -- More than 20% more Hispanics are likely to vote this year than in the last presidential election, with about 9.3 million Latino voters going to the polls, according to forecasts by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.
Wilmer Valderrama
Wilmer Valderrama Credit: Jerome Ware

Behind those numbers is a relentless effort to persuade the 8.9% of the U.S. population that is Hispanic and eligible to vote to do so. (Hispanics represent 15.5% of the population, but many are too young to vote or aren't citizens.) Univision promotes citizenship through its "Ya es hora" ("It's time") campaign, and English-language SíTV is hosting an online contest at to pick two young Latinos to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions for SíTV. Even the ubiquitous Hispanic street fair is involved: The theme of one of the biggest, Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles on April 27, is "Vote for your future."

"There's still a disparity between the number of Latins in the U.S. and the percentage who register to vote and the percentage who actually go and vote," said Phil Colon, CEO of lifestyle-branding agency Project 2050 and a founder of Voto Latino, a campaign to persuade young Hispanics to do both.

To better target young Hispanics -- and save money -- the Voto Latino effort has gone online. Active supporters and actors Rosario Dawson and Wilmer Valderrama shot a hilarious four-episode viral novela spoof called, although it's in English, "La Pasión de la Decision."

The series was shot in Mr. Valderrama's backyard in Los Angeles by an intern with a handheld camera and features much ad-libbed dialogue. The most horrifying crime in each episode -- worse than the usual novela fare of deceit, suspicious comas and incest -- is Mr. Valderrama's failure to register to vote.

The first episode has more than 56,000 views and 266 comments on MySpace.
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