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Outside group travels to Georgia to encourage minorities to vote in Senate runoffs

'Mi Familia Vota' wants to knock on the doors of at least 50,000 homes before January 5.

ATLANTA — Para leer esta historia en español, oprima aquÍ.

Groups from outside of Georgia are traveling to the state to encourage minorities to vote in the Senate runoffs. This comes at a time when racial and ethnic diversity continues to rise in the Peach State. 

According to Pew Research, Latinos and Asian Americans make up a growing share of Georgia's registered voters. 

In 2016, both groups made up 2% of registered voters. Now, that number is 4% for Latinos and 3% for Asian Americans.

Black voters have also had the largest increase in registration since 2016, with 130,000 new voters.

That's a reason why non-profit Mi Familia Vota had members fly in from Arizona and Florida, working through the holidays, to encourage Georgians to head to the polls or vote absentee. 

"The Latino population here in Georgia is about 10% of the population and of those, close to 300,000 can vote," explained Mi Familia Vota's Georgia campaign director Eduardo Sainz. "Because of these close races, our Latino population becomes critical if they show up and participate."

Credit: Pew Research

The organization has offices in ten states. Sainz says the Latino influence is so big in Georgia that now they've decided to open a chapter here, too. 

"We know that Georgia holds one of the most important elections in the country," he reiterated.

Yvette Romero, who leads the team in Phoenix, has been knocking on 100 doors a day. 

"We work seven days, holidays as well like Thanksgiving and we'll be working Christmas," Romero said. "We left our families but we feel like this is not just going to affect Georgia, it's not just going to affect the next four years but it's the laws that are going to pass in congress so we're very motivated."

The face to face interaction is what Romero has found to be most effective because she is able to answer any concerns people have and address misinformation.

Credit: Pew Research

"They believe that they already voted in the general elections or they're waiting for their ballot in the mail because they voted by mail in the last elections," she explained. "There's a lot of people who don't have access to technology or they don't have people to help them request the ballot online."

That's when they step in to help.

Romero and Sainz find that those on the other side of the door are mostly concerned with issues of immigration and health, especially now that COVID-19 disproportionately affected minorities.

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"They understand what is at stake and there's no coincidence that our community of Latinos and people of color have been hit the hardest when it comes down to COVID," Sainz said. "Our communities are suffering."

The group has been working with other local organizations, including GALEO, in order to know which areas to target. 

They will be knocking on doors until the runoffs, but their work will not be over then. After that, they will be encouraging people to register to vote. 

They will be making 500,000 calls into Latino households, sending 1 million text messages reminding them of the upcoming elections and knocking on 50,000 doors by January 5.

"We have seen that there's a huge lack of investment when it comes down to Latinos and Latinos getting the message of civically getting engaged in their own language... in Spanish," Sainz said.