Latinos in Philadelphia Mobilize to Register to Vote

 By Rafael Collazo and Janet Hernandez, NCLR

Representatives from APM at the recent Sugar Cane Festival.
Rev. Robert and Nydia Lugo (far right), Philadephia Election Commissioner Al Schmidt (middle), and representatives from APM at the recent Sugar Cane Festival.

Reverend Roberto Lugo and his wife Nydia had a decision to make: as the Puerto Rican economic crisis worsened this year, the Lugos could move on with their lives in Philadelphia and stand by the sidelines as conditions on the island deteriorated, or mobilize the community to participate in the upcoming presidential election.

They chose the latter.

As a minister and staff member at our Affiliate Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), Reverend Lugo coordinates APM’s voter registration efforts with local Hispanic churches. APM’s goal is to register at least 1,000 new voters and to reach thousands more with information about how voting can positively affect policies impacting Latino families in Philadelphia and in Puerto Rico.

As U.S. citizens by birth, Puerto Ricans living on the mainland will be a critical voting bloc in swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. APM plans to engage thousands of voters through canvassing and community outreach events.

A Selena impersonator dazzles the Sugar Cane Festival attendees.
A Selena impersonator dazzles the Sugar Cane Festival attendees.

During the recent Sugar Cane Festival, the kickoff to the summer in Philly’s Latino community, Mr. and Mrs. Lugo registered new voters while thousands of families enjoyed the festival.

“The right to vote is one that was earned through the sacrifice of many people. We must not take that right for granted. Every person’s voice is the strongest at the ballot box,” said Rick Olmos, Director of External Affairs and NCLR vote fellow for the state of Pennsylvania. “If you do not register to vote, you have given away your voice.”

Latinos account for 13.6 percent of the population in Pennsylvania, making it a key state in which Latinos can show their political power in November.


“The ability to vote represents what is best about our country,” said Olmos. APM is promoting the Latinos Vote app to reach as many people as possible this election year.

“We, as a people, get to state our personal beliefs and share them in a manner that says, ‘I want this person elected; they share my beliefs.’ Latinos in Pennsylvania like the Lugo family are going to show up to the polls and be part of our democracy.”

You can visit APM’s website to register to vote or you can go to the Apple iTunes store or Google Play and download the NCLR Latinos Vote app to cast your ballot in this important election.

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