The Phoenix Flyer

Courting Puerto Rican voters – grassroots group descending on Central Florida

By: - September 11, 2018 2:44 pm

With a month to go before the registration deadline, a progressive group called For Our Future Florida announced Tuesday that will send organizers to three Central Florida counties and partner with Latino organizations to register Puerto Rican voters in advance of the
November election.

There are estimates that at least 50,000 Puerto Ricans have migrated to Florida since Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory a year ago. That’s in addition to the natural influx of Puerto Ricans who have already been moving to the Central Florida area over the past decade.

The demographic is being heavily courted by both Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott in their battle for the U.S. Senate. A poll conducted of Puerto Ricans in Florida back in June by Florida International University showed that although 57 percent of them said they were registered Democrats, 75 percent of them had a favorable view of Scott, compared to 62 percent for Nelson.

For Our Future says they will place organizers on the ground in Orange, Osceola and Volusia counties – along the politically key Interstate 4 corridor – to drive voter turnout among Hispanic and newly arrived Puerto Rican citizens. They’ll also be partnering with organizations Mi Familia Vota and the Hispanic Federation to work on voter education events.

According to a news release, For Our Future says it will also reach out to voters through direct mail, radio and digital ads.

“This expanded outreach program means organizers on the ground connecting Hispanic communities to local social services and working with families directly to address their issues. It also gives us a chance to educate newly arrived Puerto Ricans about voting differences in Florida and the candidates on the ballot this fall,” said For Our Future political director Josh Romero. “Our goal is to both educate and empower by meeting people where they live and work.”

Meanwhile, a federal judge last week ordered 32 Florida counties to provide sample Spanish language ballots to voters for the Nov. 6 general election. The ruling came as part of a lawsuit filed by the group Latino Justice.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.