Iowa Activists Encourage Latinos to Caucus

Get-out-the-vote effort trying to teach Latinos about caucuses.

— -- Christian Ucles has been working hard to get out the vote in Iowa -- but not just any vote.

Ucles is a part of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens. And from door-knocking to mock caucus trainings, this year the organization is doing everything it can to get Latinos to caucus.

"People may understand the importance of voting but they may not know how to vote, they may not know the caucus process," Ucles said.

Latinos make up just 6 percent of the total population in Iowa, but LULAC estimates that accounts for about 70,000 potential caucus-goers. Only about 90,000 voters participated in the Republican caucuses last cycle. LULAC said it hopes Latinos will make up 10 percent of the total turnout when the caucuses are held Monday.

"Latinos in Iowa are an unknown commodity," Ucles said.

It's a non-partisan effort. LULAC says its only goal is to make sure Latinos understand how the caucus process works. Many of the first-time caucus-goers that attended a mock-caucus training in early January, for instance, said they have no one in their families to show them the ropes.

"I guess it's not something they're used to," first-time caucus-goer Jennifer Chavez said of her parents. "[My mom] doesn't know that much English, so sometimes that's like a barrier so she doesn't want to go to these events and feel weird or left out."

Ucles said campaigns that aren’t making much of an effort with Iowa Latinos may pay the price on caucus day, and beyond.

"If you're not doing well here in Iowa with a small population, with a very small election, how are you going to be doing with 60 million Latinos that are going to be voting in the general election?" he said.