Hispanic election interest varies and voting habits changing

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Early voting begins Thursday and a group of Tucson Latinos are getting a jump start. Members of a statewide organization called "One Arizona" began camping out in front of the Pima County recorder's office Wednesday night. But their enthusiasm might not be shared by Latinos nationwide.

Democrat or republican, in Tucson and across Arizona, there's a growing concern among Hispanic voters that they make their votes count next month.

"Latino families across the nation feel disillusioned, feel like their interests concerns and families well being has been ignored, or disregarded," said Jennifer Allen from the Border Action Network.

But in a midterm election where democrats are fighting to hold on to their majorities, they might not get the help they need from Hispanics, nationwide, a group that historically votes democratic.

A new study from the Pew Hispanic Center says while that party support remains strong, Hispanic voters appear less motivated than other groups. But immigration activists insist that is not the case in Tucson.

"We're finding a lot of energy. We're finding a lot of people who are interested and participating in the democratic process here in Arizona," said Allen.

That energy might be found across the country as well, but by Hispanic republicans. The study also says they may be more likely to vote than Latino democrats this election.

"Historically speaking midterm elections tend to turn out a greater percentage of the people who support the party that did not win in the presidential election," said Allen.

But Hispanic republicans think history isn't the only factor.

Regardless of party, Hispanic leaders encourage everyone to vote. Members of "One Arizona" have already motivated more than 22,000 citizens with Hispanic backgrounds to register, but leaders say there are still many others who should care about swaying election results.

"We're very concerned with business owners showing up to vote," said Lea Marquez-Peterson from the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  "There are issues and propositions on the ballot that can impact their business and if they don't show up they don't have a voice on that."

A recent Gallup poll gives republicans some reason for optimism. That survey found Hispanic voters support for democrats slipping to a 13-point gap in august and September, down from a 32-point gap earlier this summer.

Early voting in Arizona starts Thursday. You can cast a ballot at a number of county recorder locations Thursday through October 29. You can also have an early ballot mailed to you. The ballots need to be received by election officials or dropped off at polling places by 7 pm on November 2, election day.