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America's Largest Voter Registration Campaign Featured During Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 2003 Issues Conference With 175,000 New Voters Registered Nationwide
Non-Partisan Hispanic Campaign Is Part Of Viable Models For Community Empowerment
September 22, 2003
WASHINGTON - PRNewswire/ -- Mari Carmen Aponte, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), today addressed the Livable Communities Task Force Summit at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Annual Issues Conference to promote America's largest voter education and registration campaign as a successful model to increase community participation in issues affecting Hispanics nationwide.
PRFAA is spearheading the non-partisan effort that has registered more than 175,000 new voters in 12 states since the campaign's inception in July 2002. By providing Puerto Ricans and Hispanics with improved public information, support and assistance, the campaign aims to empower Puerto Rican and Hispanic voters and make their voices heard.
Aponte, whom the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) recently honored with the nation's most prestigious award for public service to the Hispanic community, credits strategic research and targeting, effective grassroots outreach and culturally relevant communications efforts for the successful results.
"It is imperative that we listen carefully to the needs of each community," Aponte said. "Voter education and activation is critical to instilling a sense of ownership and empowerment among community residents. Most livable communities' initiatives require citizen and stakeholder participation in order to be effective. If you can get people to vote, then they will be much more likely to show up at town hall meetings and other forums to discuss their specific needs. Voter activation is an important gateway activity to all other forms of citizen participation."
PRFAA's voter education and registration effort, entitled "Que Nada Nos Detenga!" ("Let Nothing Stop Us!") was launched July 15, 2002 by Puerto Rico Governor Sila M. Calderon and became the nation's largest Hispanic voter registration effort within six months and the nation's largest overall registration effort by August 2003. Operating initially in urban areas of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Florida, the campaign has now expanded its outreach to include Delaware, Rhode Island, Indiana and Wisconsin while also moving into more suburban and rural areas of upstate New York, western Massachusetts and central and western Florida.
The campaign, which utilizes both English and Spanish materials, is budgeted to spend $12 million between 2002 and 2004 on grassroots and communications efforts to activate over 300,000 new Puerto Rican and Hispanic voters.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Issues Conference gathers elected officials, policy experts, scholars, business and community leaders to discuss issues of importance to the Latino community and formulate policy recommendations. The Livable Community Task Force Summit addressed Environmental Justice, Community Development and Transportation issues within the Hispanic communities.
CHCI Livable Communities panelists included PRFAA Executive Director Mari Carmen Aponte, Puerto Rico Governor Sila Calderon's Deputy Chief of Staff Ingrid Vila, Alan Spears of the National Parks Conservation Association, Angela Ledford of Clear the Air public education campaign, Rich Stolz of the Transportation Equity Network and Jacinta Ma of Harvard University's Civil Rights Project.
PRFAA, which serves as the mainland presence of the government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, operates nine regional community outreach offices in Boston, Chicago, Hartford, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, Miami and Orlando and four satellite offices in Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland, and Springfield, Mass. The Washington, D.C. office is located at 1100 17th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20036 and can be reached by phone at 202-778-0710 and on the web at http://www.prfaa.com/.
For more information, please visit http://www.prfaa.com/