Immigrant voting push strong
By Antonio Olivo
Chicago Tribune reporter
12:11 AM CDT, October 3, 2008
During the last three months, immigrant groups in Illinois have registered about 24,000 new voters, part of an aggressive last push to influence next month's elections.
Although the subject of Immigration has barely been broached by either presidential candidate, frustrations with the system are spurring registration drives in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere that have seen nearly half a million new voters registered by immigrant groups in 12 states.
A campaign in Illinois and six other stateslaunched last week to register 1 million new Latino voters hopes to sway 46 Electoral College votes, organizers said. In solidly Democratic Illinois, activists are targeting suburban areas where potentially close congressional elections could lead to more support in Congress for Immigration reforms. Nearly 200,000 voters in Illinois have registered since January, bringing the state total to 7.4 million, Illinois State Board of Elections figures show.
“This is now getting to the point where the impact of the electorate is going to have to be taken seriously,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which is also launching a $500,000 get-out-the-vote effort next week featuring phone banks, mailers and offers to drive voters to polling sites Nov. 4.
As they target Chinatown, Bridgeview, Chicago Lawn and 17 other communities in a scramble for new voters before Tuesday's registration deadline, volunteers have tapped into a mosaic of the immigrant experience that defines the Chicago region.
CHINATOWN: Young reaching out to elders
BRIDGEVIEW: Arabs eager to be heard in U.S.
CHICAGO LAWN: Apathy obstacle hard to tackle