Lack of Hispanic Voters Worries Odessa Group

By: Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - Hispanics make up nearly half of Ector County's population, but that's not being showed at the polls.

That's why Una Voz Unidas President Art Leal is worried.

"Right now the Hispanic community is 30 percent of registered voters in Ector County," Leal said. "That's about 20,000 people, but we're only getting 3,000 to the polls."

A drop off in voters is normal after a Presidential election, but the county saw more than 16,000 voters less this year than compared to 2008. Based on their calculations, UVU says only 16 percent of the voters were Hispanic.

"If we don't get enough engaged Hispanics in Ector County and West Texas as a whole we could get into what could be considered a political apartheid," Leal said. "Where the majority of the population is Hispanic but really has no representation in local government or county government and that wouldn't be good."

Ector County Bilingual Coordinator Maria Leyva says they're doing their part.

"Before every election I try to get out at different events going on, churches, sporting events at the coliseum and try to give them information about the election as far as early voting schedules and election locations," she said.

Even though county workers provide voter registration applications, they say many people don't show up to the polls because they don't know the people on the ballot or the issues.

Leal's group is now hashing out a new plan to get more Hispanics to the polls.

"Right now our group is working up another plan," he said. "Maybe we'll start a door to door program and possibly even a postcard campaign."

They hope by meeting face to face they can get out the vote.