Photo: Voter turnout
Hispanics could rack up a record amount of participating voters in the presidential elections on Nov. 6 in the battleground state of North Carolina.
More than 2 million of North Carolina’s 6.6 million voters have cast ballots in early voting, which began Oct. 18 and ends Saturday, according to figures provided by the State Board of Elections.
Justin Gross, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, estimates that at least 75,000 of the 111,753 Hispanic registered voters will go to the polls in these elections, a much higher number than the 40,028 who cast their ballots in 2008.
In big cities like Charlotte, the influx of Hispanic voters to early voting locations has been obvious.
According to Michael Dickerson, director of elections of Mecklenburg County, of the 18,000 Hispanics registered in the city, more than 4,000 have already voted.
First-time voter Fernando Vargas, 28, is one of them.
“We are definitely going to make a difference - we have a lot of Hispanic people voting, because our opinion is important in North Carolina,” he told Efe.
For Rosanely Rodriguez, who has lived in Charlotte for 10 years, this is the second time she has gone to the polls in a presidential election.
“This year there are many more Latinos voting than there were four years ago. People are more confident, and in Charlotte there is more rallying of the community,” she said.
The Hispanic vote has become the most sought-after in the Tar Heel State, since in just four years, 71,725 Latinos have registered to take part in the electoral process, a rise of 44 percent.
Both political parties plus pro-immigrant organizations have spent days registering voters in counties with a large Hispanic population, at community festivals and neighborhood meetings, and have showed up at high schools and colleges to register young people.
Nearly 44 percent of Hispanic voters in the state are registered Democrats, while 18.5 percent are Republicans.
Then-Sen. Barack Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by a scant 14,777 votes.
The latest poll showed a technical tie in North Carolina between the president and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.