Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
The path to the White House runs through Florida, and more and more, political analysts predict the key to winning the Sunshine State lies with the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida.
"Que Vote Mi Gente," a coalition of local Latino progressive groups, is working to rally Puerto Rican and Latino voters for November's general election, and on Thursday, the coalition opened a new field office in Kissimmee.
Que Vote Mi Gente, which translates to "Vote, My People," is concentrated on the growing Puerto Rican community in Central Florida because those voters have unique concerns that haven't been addressed by politicians, such as the financial crisis on the island or affordable housing. Puerto Ricans are predicted to surpass Florida's Cuban population in 2020, making them a powerful voting bloc in the swing state. On Thursday, about 50 people came to the coalition's Kissimmee office opening, bringing with them traditional Puerto Rican snacks and lively music.
"This office will serve as a central point for people to learn how they can vote," says Christina Hernández, a coalition organizer, at the Kissimmee opening. "But it will serve as a way to organize our community, to show people the strength and power we have as voters in Central Florida."
Frederick Velez, of Organize Now, says in less than three weeks, volunteers with the coalition has registered more than 3,000 people to vote by mail.
"Part of the Que Vote Mi Gente campaign is to make sure that not only are Puerto Rican voices heard in this election, but that we're planting the seeds for the next couple of years," he says. "These elections are super important. People need to hear our voice now and years from now in 2018 and 2020."