‘Continue to get out the vote:’ Lin-Manuel Miranda encourages Latino canvassers

Singer-songwriter spends time with activists working to turn out the Latino vote in metro Atlanta

Republican and Democratic campaigns in Georgia have made no secret of their commitment to try to win over Latino voters, a sign of this fast-growing slice of the electorate’s rising influence, especially as statewide races are decided by thinning margins.

On Wednesday, the playwright behind the smash hit ‘Hamilton,’ Lin-Manuel Miranda, came into town to shine a light on Latinos’ political power. In between events with high-profile Democratic candidates, Miranda met with bilingual Hispanic canvassers in Clayton County, at an event organized by the City of Forest Park and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) inside a local public library.

Flanked by his father Luis, a political consultant and Latino community activist, Miranda said he was “really excited and hopeful” over record-breaking turnout rates on the first days of early voting.

Addressing the GALEO canvassers, he added: “You guys are going to go out and canvass and I’m incredibly proud of you and I’m incredibly proud to be here with you. So, thank you for your work and continue to get out the vote.”

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

GALEO is a nonpartisan organization that encourages Latinos to engage in the political process and vote. Gwinnett County, home to the biggest Hispanic population in the state, has been the focus of its roughly four dozen canvassers, but the location of Wednesday’s event with Miranda is a sign that Latinos are now present in sizable pockets throughout metro Atlanta and Georgia.

Forest Park is over 30% percent Hispanic, according to data from the 2020 U.S. Census. In 2019, Uruguay native Hector Gutierrez was elected to serve on the Forest Park City Council, becoming the city’s first Latino elected official. He was on hand during Miranda’s visit on Wednesday.

“Having [Miranda] here in my community fills me with pride, especially because it’s helping us bring attention to the election and to the importance of voting,” Gutierrez said in Spanish. “For us [Latinos] to be recognized and taken into account, we have to go out and vote and raise our voices. … It all starts at the ballot box.”

Rafael Aragón is a community organizer with GALEO. At the conclusion of the event with Miranda, he and two other GALEO canvassers drove to a nearby Forest Park neighborhood, where they knocked on doors and encouraged residents to vote in this year’s election.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

“I think that there has historically been kind of like a disconnect or alienation with our community from politics,” Aragón said. “And I think that the more we go out there and talk to people and explain to them, what it means to be engaged civically, and how they can have an impact directly. … they start to get a better understanding of why it’s important.”

Working to get out the Hispanic vote, he added, feels “more and more important because it seems every election cycle, the margin for victory is smaller and smaller, and our community is larger and larger.”

As of December 2021, there were over 260,000 registered Latino voters in Georgia, up from 10,000 in 2003.

“The work that we do, everybody who does it recognizes that it’s important. But also, getting to meet and speak with people who have accomplished so much, like Lin-Manuel Miranda, and know that they also care about the advancement of our community, it’s always refreshing,” Aragón said.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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