Group Looking to Register Potential Dominican-American Voters

Friday, 23 May 2014 01:32 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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The group Dominicanos USA is spearheading a voter-registration effort in New York and Rhode Island, targeting Dominican-American residents as the Dominican population surges, according to The New York Times.

Investors, including the Vicini family, "sugar barons" who own Grupo Vicini, a private asset management firm, are putting $3.5 million into the effort. DominicanosUSA is trying to capitalize on enthusiasm building over two Dominican-American candidates in this year’s elections.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is one of four Democrats vying to become Rhode Island’s next governor. If he wins, Taveras would be the state’s first Hispanic to hold the office. In New York City, Democratic State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is challenging 22-term U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, who represents a majority Hispanic district, according to NBC News. The New York Democratic primary is next month.

"As one of the fastest growing ethnic populations in New York City and Providence, Rhode Island, it made perfect sense to start our focus in these two places where our community has lived, worked, and thrived for years, yet has not fulfilled its civic and political potential to have a say in the city's political and policy affairs," said DominicanosUSA Spokesman Manuel Matos, said in a statement.

Social media, specifically Facebook, is playing a key role in mobilizing Dominican voters, according to the Times. One method involves accessing friend lists from Facebook profiles and sending those potential Dominican voters a message encouraging them to register.

If the effort is successful — DominicanosUSA has registered 26,000 people in New York and Rhode Island — the group plans to expand its efforts to Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all of which are growing their Dominican populations.

A Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project report published last year found that Dominicans make up nearly 3 percent of the U.S. population, and are the fifth-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States.

Sixty-four percent of immigrants from the Dominican Republic arrived in the United States in 1990 or later, and fewer than half were U.S. citizens.

According to the Times, citing U.S. Census data, New York’s Dominican population surged from 476,000 in 2000 to 762,000 in 2012. Registered Dominican voters living in New York increased in the same time frame from 158,000 to 357,000. Rhode Island is home to 34,000 Dominicans, 14,000 who are eligible to vote.

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