When the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce encouraged taco trucks to become voter registration centers, cities across the country followed suit. A few weeks ago, the USHCC set a plan into motion to increase Latino turnout following Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez’s disparaging comments about his own community. He claimed that Latino culture is so imposing that if it goes unchecked, we’ll soon have “taco trucks on every corner.”
With these words, he made his animosity toward Latinos known. But with taco trucks that double as registration centers, the community has decided to do something productive. Instead of getting upset, truck owners are providing a crucial service. With 27 million eligible Latino voters, we can help decide the election. However, Latinos have yet to come out to the polls in full force. The same percentage of eligible Latinos – 48 percent – voted in the 2012 election as in the 1988 one, according to the New York Times.
So when USHCC’s #GuacTheVote initiative began, Audrey Maker and Tamale House East’s part owner Jose Valera teamed up to increase voter registration numbers in Texas’ Travis County. Focusing on areas with high concentrations of Latinos as well as a lot of foot traffic, at least two trucks will sell food as they typically do. But they’ll also have a Spanish speaker and a trained deputy registrar to make it easy for people to register.
“As a business owner, I want to stay apolitical,” Valera told the Statesman. “But this is not a partisan push – this is a voter registration push, and something we’d like to turn into a voter turnout push. It’ll be a success if we get 50 new voters.” Valera recruited two taco trucks as of last week, but he hopes to end up with at least five.
Similar efforts are underway in Houston, the United States’ fourth-largest city. Also spurred by Marco Gutierrez, Thomas Hull teamed up with Mi Familia Vota. Together, they signed up eight trucks to join the voter registration drive, according to Houston Public Media. The drive will end on Tuesday, October 11.
Hull doesn’t want people to just register, which is why the trucks are also trying to help voters make the most informed decision possible. “We’re also handing out information on where to vote, with early votes and on Election Day and the process of voting, ’cause that’s – registering folks to vote – is half the battle,” he said. “The other half is getting folks to the polls.”
The Arizona Democratic Party has managed to get 150 taco trucks to register voters across the state. Mi Familia Vota’s hopes to set up taco trucks in the battleground state of Nevada. With the USHCC also encouraging taco trucks to park their vehicles outside of polling stations on Election Day, it’s very likely that we’re closer to having taco trucks on every corner.
In honor of National Taco Day 2016, check out a few taco trucks provide two very important services:
The general election takes place Tuesday, November 8. If you want to exercise your right to vote, make sure you’re ready to go on election day. In most states, you must be registered a month before, but to be certain check the deadlines here. If you’re not sure if you’re registered, find your official state voter lookup site here.