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Phoenix Voter Forum Addresses Role Of Latinos In 2016 Election

(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
Arturo Vargas from NALEO thinks the Latino population is under-funded to mobilize voters.

Political pundits talk about the Latino vote as a major player come election season, but some feel Latinos are ignored when it comes to long-term civic engagement. That was the message discussed Wednesday at a forum held by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Arturo Vargas is the director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. He spoke on the role of Latino voters in the 2016 election. He thinks the possibility of Arizona seeing a more liberal voter turnout is real.

“We know that Latinos made a difference in the 1996 election that resulted in Bill Clinton winning Arizona. Latinos could be a factor that is changing or could change Arizona to a purple state.”

He thinks the majority of the Latino population is ignored by politicians who expect a state like Arizona to be red.

“You do not have investment in mobilizing them to vote," he said. "The investments you see happening are in swing states like Florida, where Latinos make a difference in statewide elections, but that is only a fraction of the population.”

Vargas said more than 433,000 Arizona Latinos are expected to cast ballots in the upcoming election, an 8-percent increase from 2012.

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Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.