Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba Celebrate Voto Latino at the DNC

During the Democratic National Convention, Voto Latino, a non-profit voter registration effort, celebrated the culmination of a four-year effort to increase Latino voting strength in the 2008 presidential election. Initiated in 2004, Voto Latino was founded by actress Rosario Dawson and former political consultant Maria Teresa Petersen. After watching the 2004 election, Dawson and Petersen realized that Latinos were not as engaged and represented as they should be, particularly as the largest minority group in the nation. They set out to create a non-partisan organization to appeal to the seven million Latinos between 18–29 years old, increasing voter registration and  politically energizing this crucial voting block.

Dawson, fellow celebs Wilmer Valderrama, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, and a host of Latino political movers and shakers, gathered at Club Vibe in Denver, CO to celebrate the project’s success.

“We (Latinos) can’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” said Dawson. “We need to be reminded to value our voices. We can’t let our silence ring louder than our vote.”

For Claudia Martinez, 31, the Voto Latino party offered an opportunity to celebrate her own personal political journey. A native of Michoacán, Mexico, she says she became a citizen in 2004 and registered to vote immediately, frustrated by the direction in which she felt the country was headed. A graduate of the California-based Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute, Martinez organized a grassroots fundraising campaign for Obama this year which raised $10,000.

Claudia said, “I had a desire to make a difference so as soon as I could, I became a citizen. I felt that I had to have the chance to vote.”

Voto Latino has utilized Latino celebrities to generate buzz and new technology, like text messaging and viral videos, to share the importance of registering to vote. The result has been a resounding success. Since January 2008 alone, the campaign has registered 22,000 new voters. For more information about Voto Latino, go to

To read more about Dawson's involvement in the voter registration effort be sure to check out our election package in the October Issue of Latina Magazine, on newsstands Sept. 18th.

Valerie Menard