Weekend Heller: Taco Democracy

Editor’s note: Starting today, The Weekend Heller will now appear on Saturday morning and run through Sunday.

 

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It takes a village and a bunch of taco trucks to get the vote out in Texas. Lana Rigsby of Rigsby Hull writes:

“In response to racist statements from Latinos for Trump, Rigsby Hull (#swingtexas) initiated a ‘taco trucks on every corner’ movement in Texas” to help give the franchise to Latino citizens.

 

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The project, partnered with Mi Familia Vota, has been covered widely. During the campaign’s first week they reported a surge in Google searches for registration information in Hispanic parts of Texas and other states. Crediting taco truck registrations, Harris County officials predicted a bump of as many as 175,000 registered voters. But the project’s ultimate success exceeded all expectations: Almost 245,000 voters were added to the rolls (breaking Texas and Harris County records), with Hispanic surnames leading the increase by a wide margin.

“This story has communication design at its heart,” says Rigsby. With immigration issues dominating the presidential election, the Hispanic community has lots at stake—yet Latinos are woefully underrepresented at the polls. Texas ranks dead last in U.S. voter turnout, and fewer than a quarter of eligible Texas Latinos even register. It’s a communication problem: Texas voter registration rules are notoriously confusing and guidance is hard to find, especially for non-English-speakers. The New York Times documents Texas election results that are skewed “… due entirely to a misunderstanding or general lack of information.” Worse, the rules are designed to keep some people out: “Texas has a long and ugly history of blocking blacks and Latinos from voting through poll taxes, all-white primaries, and English-only ballots,” says The Nation. To combat all of that, Houston’s taco trucks are serving up information, distributing bilingual voter guides that simplify and clarify requirements for the citizens who need it most.

NPR news writes that taco trucks “now straddle the worlds of political symbol and internet meme.” Will they ultimately help shape the election? While that remains to be seen, it helps that they are adding hundreds of thousands of impassioned Hispanic voices to the conversation.”

 

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