One of the most memorable moments so far in an extremely eventful 2016 election was when Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos For Trump, went on MSNBC to forecast the dark future that awaited Trump supporters if their Latino neighbors were allowed to live unchecked.
“My culture is a very dominant culture,” Gutierrez, who was born in Mexico, explained to All In host Chris Hayes. “And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re gonna have taco trucks on every corner.”
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) September 2, 2016
The threat of a taco truck on every corner, to many ears, sounded more like a utopia than a hellscape. Gutierrez’s appearance came after Trump’s immigration speech on August 31, which caused the bulk of the members of his National Hispanic Advisory Board to resign. That could explain why Gutierrez, who has no official role within the Trump campaign, ended up on MSNBC making tacos political.
But a Houston activist organization decided to make a political statement of its own. As Houston Public Media reports, design firm Rigsby Hull and Latino activist organization Mi Familia Vota tapped a half-dozen taco trucks within the city to host voter registration drives. The campaign kicked off on Monday and runs through October 11, with six taco truck operators offering not just voter registration, but also information on how to vote, where to vote, and the differences between early voting and election day voting.
All of this is relevant information, because—while tacos and taco trucks are obviously not solely enjoyed by Latinos—the turnout among Latino in voters in Texas is an issue that has helped determine the state’s political fortunes for a generation. We’re home to almost 20 percent of Latinos in the country, but the turnout among that group in Texas lags behind both white Texans and Latinos outside of the state. According to the a report from polling firm Latino Decisions, in 2012 only 39 percent of eligible Latino voters cast a vote for president, while 61 percent of white Texans turned out, and 48 percent of Latinos outside of Texas voted. “If Hispanic voter mobilization efforts were successful in the state, Texas would be as competitive as Florida in statewide contests, including presidential elections,” the report found.
A half-dozen taco trucks in Houston isn’t going to swing the 2016 election, obviously. When we contacted Rigsby Hull to see how many people had signed up, they explained that because the truck operators aren’t certified voter registrars, they’re merely handing out the forms and pointing people in the direction of the nearest mailbox. But there are rumblings that 2016 could help bolster the Latino vote. Naturalization ceremonies in Houston are up from 1,200 a month in 2012 to 2,200 a month in 2016, and 80 percent of those naturalized are registered to vote. Tacos for president.