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National Coalition Ramps Up Efforts to Get Florida’s 1M Puerto Ricans to Vote

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Central Florida's Puerto Rican community leaders are registering recent Puerto Rican arrivals to vote. Photo: Associated Press.

Central Florida's Puerto Rican community leaders are registering recent Puerto Rican arrivals to vote. Photo: Associated Press.

A national coalition is ramping up its efforts to leverage the voting power of the more than one million Puerto Ricans in Florida. #QueVoteMiGente, which loosely translates from Spanish to ‘May My People Vote,’ is a campaign that launched Thursday across the state.  It will consist of candidate forums, voter registration drives, caravans, and a digital campaign that profiles Puerto Rican voters.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans have arrived stateside in the past year or two from the island where a debt crisis has crippled the economy, hurting jobs, education, and health care. The core of new arrivals is in central Florida. Many are not registered to vote, and this election will be their first chance to cast a ballot for president. This is something they cannot do on the island.

“The first order of business is to make sure that our fellow Puerto Ricans who are residing in the I-4 corridor know the power that they have in dealing, not only with the issues at the stake in Florida, but also with Puerto Rico itself,” said Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. He represents Puerto Rico in Congress.

Data show Puerto Ricans represent one of the state’s largest groups of unaffiliated voters and that 50 percent participate regularly in elections.

“It takes a while for Puerto Ricans to familiarize themselves with U.S. mainland politics because of our status in Puerto Rico,” added Pierluisi.

He said Puerto Ricans are engaged on the island, but the political climate there is different than it is stateside.

Puerto Ricans are set to outpace Cubans as Florida’s largest Latino group within the next three years according to projections from the ratings company Nielsen.

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About Renata Sago

Renata Sago