RALEIGH — ******
A story on page 1B of Monday's newspaper should have said that the Arizona immigration law allows law enforcement officials to question people they suspect may be in the United States illegally only if they have been stopped for some other violation.
At the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh this weekend, vendors served up tacos and corn on the cob, and dancers celebrated Hispanic culture during La Fiesta del Pueblo. But amid all the fanfare, there was also a serious voter registration effort under way.
The annual festival is in its 17th year, and organizers say politics and voting have recently become key issues for the Hispanic community. That's especially true this year, with a national debate raging over Arizona's controversial immigration law and more races being decided by close margins.
"We believe that one of the best ways to strengthen a community is to give them a political voice," said Pablo Escobar, who is a board member for the Raleigh-based nonprofit El Pueblo advocacy group.
So, at this year's festival there were booths for the Democratic and Republican parties and a booth where people could register to vote. Volunteers also walked around with clipboards trying to encourage people to register.
The two-day festival was expected to draw more than 10,000 people to the N.C. State Fairgrounds, and organizers said they hoped to register about 200 new voters.
Carla Santiago took the opportunity to register with her 12-year-old son Brian Aldiva in tow. The Wake Forest resident said she moved to the Triangle from Puerto Rico after the pharmaceutical company she works for closed her facility and transferred her here.
"I vote every four years," she said. "We would walk around and wave flags for political candidates at home. It's very important to remain politically active to me."
Adding to this year's emphasis on getting Hispanic voters to the polls: the predicted tight races in many congressional districts and the ongoing debate over Arizona's immigration law, which requires immigrants to carry their documents at all times and requires police to question people they suspect may be in the U.S. illegally.
North Carolina political figures running for re-election this fall, including Reps. David Price and Brad Miller, both Democrats, and Tony Gurley, the Republican chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, all made appearances.
Miller said Sunday that such appearances are important for him, especially since 9 percent of his voting district is Hispanic.
"I've come to this every year probably for 10 years," Miller said Sunday. "The Latino community has grown pretty substantially in that time."
And newcomers to the political scene were also eager to meet potential Hispanic supporters.
"I'm running for public office, where you represent everyone, not just a certain group of people," said MichaelBeezley, a Cary resident, engineering firm owner and Republican who is running for the state Senate in District 16. "I want people to feel they would be represented by me."
Still, some festival attendees said they were unimpressed by the pols' efforts.
"We are very current with what's happening," said Maria Santamaria of Knightdale, who attended the festival with her husband and 6-year-old daughter.
"We see the news, we see the newspaper, and we make our own decisions."
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