Providing milk, meat and a vital link to Island and Latin American cultures.
The fight between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott for Florida’s GOP gubernatorial nomination has featured anti-immigrant rhetoric–and it’s making the some of the state’s Hispanic Republicans uneasy.
This post is by Macollvie Jean-François, a reporter at the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A couple of weeks ago, while talking about the presidential election at a Fort Lauderdale strip mall, Gregory Fleurinor, 31, took his voter registration card out of his wallet. He wanted to prove that he is registered — and indeed he has been since January 2006.
Fleurinor, however, has never used the card. The clammy feel of the paper, a result of being pressed against other cards in his wallet, ignored, attests to that. Barely a month before the election, the Haitian-American delivery driver said he still hadn’t made up his mind about whether he would vote.
“I’m just not used to voting, I’ve never done it,” Fleurinor said, shrugging. “I haven’t decided if I will go [to the polls]. Everyone else is going, what difference will it make if I don’t go?”
Groups in immigrant communities have been working feverishly to ensure people like Fleurinor do vote. They are targeting both newly naturalized Americans and those who simply never bothered to go to the polls in the past.
Events like a free Jay-Z-Wyclef Jean concert in Miami on Oct. 5, which one immigrant empowerment advocate called “awareness builders,” receive great attention, but they do not necessarily get people out to vote. What does translate into ballots are other, less flashy, ongoing efforts by community and advocacy groups, like door-to-door canvassing, phone calls and simulated voting exercises.
The latter combat the fear many immigrants and first-time voters have about their debut in the polling booth. Some simply do not know enough about how to cast their vote; others still harbor fears that stem from chaotic, even dangerous, experiences in their birth countries.