© 2022 Iowa Public Radio
IPR20012_Website_Header_Option2_NewsNavy.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iowa LULAC chapter urges Latino voters to head to polls

A line of polling places are set up in a large room in the Long Lines Recreation Center in Woodbury County.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
Iowa's LULAC chapter is using texting, mailings and door-to-door knocking to get Latino voters to the polls.

The Iowa chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is making a final push to get out the vote ahead of Election Day.

LULAC organizers spent the weekend knocking on doors to ensure the state’s Latino and Spanish-speaking communities understand changes to Iowa’s voting laws.

Tuesday’s midterm elections will look different than past years. Polls will close at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. Some voters' precinct locations may have changed due to redistricting. All of which Joe Henry, LULAC’s political director, is working to remind voters of.

Henry said the newly enacted voter restrictions have made it more difficult for his community.

“This is a state that was built by immigrants. We need to support immigrants, we need to support diversity,” Henry said. “We need to make sure that people have the right to vote and that there are no roadblocks to that.”

There are 80,000 registered Latino voters in the state – according to Henry – with the majority residing in Polk, Woodbury and Scott counties.

LULAC has sued the state over many of the voting changes, saying it will disproportionately impact the working class and people of color. In a statement, LULAC chapter president Nick Salazar said the restrictions place an “undue burden” on all Iowans.

This is a state that was built by immigrants. We need to support immigrants, we need to support diversity. We need to make sure that people have the right to vote and that there are no roadblocks to that.
Joe Henry, LULAC political director

It’s not the first time the organization has contested Iowa voting laws. In 2021, LULAC also filed suit against Iowa’s so-called “English-Only” law, or Iowa Language Reaffirmation Act, which requires all official state documentation be in English, including voter materials.

Henry said this presents significant barriers to Latino voters who may speak English as a second language and not feel as confident in their language skills.

“If you don't have somebody there in the room, a polling worker who can speak Spanish, you're held hostage by what's on paper,” Henry said.

The problem extends to voting information distributed by the state, said Henry. This election cycle, a postcard sent out by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office with Election Day information was only disseminated in English.

Despite the challenges, Henry said he still expects a large turnout in the midterm election, especially from young Latino voters. The median age for Latinos in Iowa is 23. 

He said issues like jobs, health care and education are front of mind for the community this election cycle.

Kendall is Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA.