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Latinos Encouraged to Vote

Polls have predicted that the political races in November will be close. Just a few votes could make the difference in which party takes control of the Senate in November.

Hoping to pull the Latino voters to the polls on November 4, El Centro, Inc. recently held a Latino Get Out to Vote panel to inform the Latino community how important it is to have their voices heard on the issues of health care, job growth and education.

“It is our right to vote and our Hispanic population is the youngest ethnic group in the nation. We must be active voters to make a difference and write change in the communities we live,” said Irene Caudillo, president and CEO of El Centro.

Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) attended the forum at the South Branch Library in her hometown neighborhood of Argentine in Kansas City, Kansas.

“We are here advocating for ourselves and for our own empowerment. The Latino community has demonstrated its clout at the national level. The Latino community has grown and in Kansas they represent 10% of the population. These numbers need to translate into votes. In a race that is razor thin just think what our votes could mean in the outcome of any one given race. Guess who could tip the ballots—Latinos!” said Murguia.

In the packed room at the Southbranch Library, Donnelly College students, many who are voting for the first time, sat in on the forum. One of those students, Monae Yancey, realized that not enough people are exercising their right to vote and she hopes to encourage her family and friends to vote in this election.

She is concerned about education and health care and at this point is still undecided on which candidates she will support.

“Nothing will change if we don’t vote. We are the change; we can use our power through our voting to make the change. I hope everyone will learn about the candidates and make an informed decision as they go to the polls,” said Yancey.

Besides the Kansas Governor’s race between incumbent Sam Brownback and his opponent Paul Davis, voters will decide the U.S. Senate Race between incumbent Pat Roberts and Greg Orman and the Secretary of State post between incumbent Kris Kobach and his opponent Jean Schodorf.

United States Senator Pat Roberts is touring Kansas to visit with constituents as he campaigns for re-election. “I am in a tough fight, I know that,” he told supporters at his campaign headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas.

He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 following the retirement of Senator Nancy Kassebaum and won re-elections in 2002 and 2008.

Roberts told the crowd that President Barack Obama wants to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the United States.

“I stopped him in 2009 and I will do it again. I will do everything that I possibly can to keep them from bringing terrorists to Fort Leavenworth and entering all of northeast Kansas. I have one message to the President. ‘Not on my watch,’” said Roberts.

Roberts has garnered support from Republican heavy hitters including campaign appearances by Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Coburn, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Also joining the efforts to help Roberts in his re-election bid are Representative Paul Ryan, current chair of the House Budget Committee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

“This race will determine the Senate majority. And it is absolutely critical that we take back the Senate. We can run the Senate like it was before Harry Reid took over,” emphasized Roberts.

According to Roberts, a Republican majority can and will repeal Obamacare, they will stop amnesty and secure the border, they will grow the economy and will restore the constitutional rights to free speech and the right to bear arms.

Roberts did not take questions from the media during his stop in Overland Park. He did not respond to emails that Hispanic News sent to his public relations office asking if he planned to speak with Latino constituents.

His opponent, Greg Orman, running as an Independent, is not responding to media questions from Hispanic News either. According to his campaign website, he is running for the United States Senate to represent Kansas as an Independent because he knows that Washington is broken.

“For too long we’ve elected politicians who continue this broken system that caters to special interests and the extremists in their own parties rather than solving problems of the people who elect them,” said Orman.

His stance on illegal immigration is that the Senate needs to adopt a policy that is tough, practical and fair.

“By tough, I mean we need to secure our borders. It’s something that we’ve been working on, but we’re not there yet. Our policy must be practical. It’s not practical to say that we are going to find and send back to other countries 11 million undocumented people. We have whole industries in Kansas that would go away if we attempted to introduce such an unworkable policy,” he said.

Orman believes that a high quality education is important for individual and collective success.

“Education is the catalyst for the American Dream, but partisan political wrangling is threatening that dream by saddling young people and would be entrepreneurs with an overwhelming amount of student debt. The cost of higher education at public universities has tripled, and Americans now have more than $1 trillion in student debts,” stated Orman.

Another pivotal race is for Kansas Secretary of State. Polls indicated that Incumbent Kobach has a lead over his opponent Schodorf. Kobach has pushed legislation requiring proof of citizenship such as passport or a birth certificate in order to register to vote. His push to fight election fraud dominated the debates with Schodorf.

The Associated Press has reported that the voter registrations of more than 23,000 legal Kansas residents have been held up because they haven’t provided proof of citizenship.

“I will work within the law to help more individuals complete registration. When I am elected as Secretary of State, I will work as a full-time secretary of state. I will straighten out the registration mess so we can restore the freedoms of more than 22,000 people,” said Schodorf.

Kobach defended his legislation to prevent voter fraud saying, “Contrary to what my opponent says if you’re a U.S. citizen it’s easy to register to vote in Kansas.”

Besides his title of Secretary of State, Kobach is well known nationally for his role as co-author of Arizona’s SB 1070 illegal immigration law. He assisted Arizona in drafting and defense of that law, as well as other statues designed to stop illegal immigration.

“Kansas deserves a public servant as secretary of state who puts Kansas first, not their personal agendas. Kansas needs someone who will make elections safe and secure for all citizens, not jeopardize our military mail ballots or leave over 22,000 people on the suspended voter lists. The way that my office would run emphasizes public service for the people of Kansas,” said Schodorf.