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  • By NORMA MARTINEZ & LAUREN TERRAZAS • MAY 3

Fronteras: 'Su Voto Es Su Voz'

Willie Velásquez, political activist and founder of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, registers a man to vote. Since SVREP's founding in 1974, Latino voter participation has nearly tripled to 14.3 million.

LIFE MAGAZINE

(LISTEN)

A lawsuit against the Texas Secretary of State David Whitley was recently settled after his office released a list of 95,000 voters accused of being non-citizens. Latino voters who were on the list and several civil rights organizations filed the suit, including the Southwest Voter Registration Project.

Lydia Camarillo, president of SVREP, says the organization was founded on the belief, “su voto es su voz.”

On Jan. 25, Whitley’s office released the list of suspected non-citizen registered voters and advised county registrars to purge them from the voter rolls. Weeks later, the office retracted 25,000 individuals named on the list after admitting they were, in fact, U.S. citizens. Those who were flagged by the Secretary’s office joined several organizations, including MALDEF, LULAC, and the League of Women Voters of Texas, in filing the suit, which was settled on April 29.

SVREP was founded in 1974 by San Antonio native Willie Velásquez and other Mexican American political activists to encourage Mexican Americans in the Southwest to vote. Since then, SVREP has grown into the largest and oldest nonpartisan Latino voter participation organization in the country. Because of its efforts, Latino voter participation has nearly tripled, from 5.4 million in 1994 to 14.3 million today.

Camarillo succeeded SVREP’s long-time president, Antonio Gonzalez, in November 2018 after he died of cancer. She shared her thoughts on the controversial voter purge effort and reflected on the milestones SVREP has achieved in its 45-year long history.

For information on how to register to vote, visit VoteTexas.gov.

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