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Groups seek to bolster turnout with National Voter Registration Day

Published: Monday, Sept. 24 2012 6:20 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to beef up Latino voter registration numbers, a new Spanish-language registration drive has been launched.

The statewide effort is in conjunction with Tuesday's National Voter Registration Day.

The ABU Education Fund, a non-partisan affiliate of the Alliance for a Better Utah, partnered with Cuéntame — which means count me or tell me. The Los Angeles based grassroots organization, which focuses on issues that affect the Latino community, created a one-stop web portal and a voter registration video for Utah schools and campuses.

"Good government starts with citizen involvement," said Maryann Martindale, director of the ABU Education Fund, "whether you speak Spanish or English or any other language."

The portal and video were created in English and Spanish in an effort to reach the fast growing bilingual community in Utah. It answers basic questions that may be preventing Latinos from registering.

According to Cuentame, 11 million eligible Latino voters and 8 million eligible African American voters throughout the country will not register to vote in this next election. The organization has taken to the streets and the Internet to spread the word about the importance of registering to vote.

Basic requirements are listed on the ABU portal, such as who can vote, age requirements, types of acceptable identifications, registration locations and deadlines.

The mail-in deadline to register is Oct. 9 and the online and in-person deadline is Oct. 22.

Isaac Holyoak, the communications director for ABU, said 25 percent of all eligible Utahns will not register to vote this election, ranking the state 48 in voter turnout.

"That is the equivalent of the entire population of Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, Logan, St. George, and Park City," he said. 

A statewide competition is being held among participating campuses to see which school can get the most registered voters and pledged voters, with the winning campus receiving a visit from Lt. Gov. Greg Bell. Weber State University has already registered more than 1,000 students, according to Daniel Diaz, the political affairs chairman at Utah Valley University.

"One of our big pushes is reminding Utahns that there is more at stake this election than the presidential contest," Holyoak said. "There are over 100 offices that will be filled throughout the state of Utah."

E-mail: jreyes@desnews.com Twitter: @_JulianReyes_

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