PBS NewsHour

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What voters are saying about the candidates, mail-in ballots

As the November election approaches, we continue to look at how Americans across the country are thinking about it. Patricia Lopez, an editorial writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative and a former George W. Bush administration staffer, join Judy Woodruff to discuss what they’re hearing from voters about mail-in ballots and the candidates.

AIRED: September 16, 2020 | 0:07:52
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TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we want to continue our regular look at how this election is seen

across the country with Patricia Lopez. She's an editorial writer for The Star Tribune.

And she joins us from St. Paul, Minnesota.

And Daniel Garza, he is president of the advocacy group the LIBRE Initiative, which will host

a policy forum with Vice President Pence this Friday. Daniel Garza is also a former White

House staffer in the Bush administration.

And we welcome both of you to the "NewsHour."

We were listening to President Trump's remarks at the White House just about half-an-hour

ago, Patricia Lopez, the president again continuing to cast doubt on mail-in voting.

The people you talk to, how much confidence do they tell you they have in the integrity

of the American voting system?

PATRICIA LOPEZ, Star Tribune: They have a high degree of confidence,.

And, in Minnesota, they have taken special precautions because we have been through this

before with the Franken-Coleman race and others. So there is a ballot tracker. You don't have

to check your ballot at the polling place a second time. There's a bar code that's assigned

to voters that will help match up things, along with personally identifying information.

So this goes way beyond the old signature match. So, they think, given all those things

- - and we have had an unprecedented number of applications for absentee ballots come

in. The secretary of state here thinks that as much as a third of the state could vote

either by mail or early.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting.

Daniel Garza, what about where you are? What are people saying to you about how much confidence

they have in the voting system?

DANIEL GARZA, Executive Director, The LIBRE Initiative: There is confidence in the voting

system.

Latinos in Texas will tell you that where they have most of the confidence is actually

in-person voting, because they feel that there is a high rejection rate for Latinos in Texas

when it comes to mail-in ballots.

The rules change from county to county. For example, we are going to start October 13

early voting, but you have to get your ballot in -- or your application for the ballot by

the 23rd. But some counties ask that it be 45 days prior. So, you have to know what is

going on and you have to do some research.

The reason that they prefer to do voting in person is because names in the mail-in ballots

have to match exactly. And Latinos like to use their mother's surname, and sometimes

that is a problem. Many don't have permanent addresses. We have a high volume of senior

citizens who are in senior citizen homes here and are transient as well, and many require

oral assistance because of language.

So the possibility of disenfranchisement is real when it comes to mail-in ballots. We

know that, in Virginia, 5 percent of all of the primary mail-in ballots were rejected.

This is an extraordinarily high number, and so there's worry about that.

And over two-thirds of Latinos will tell you that they prefer mail-in ballots -- or -- I'm

sorry -- in person.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, we know that there is a lot more attention paid

to all of this, this year. It does put a greater burden on voters themselves to find out what

the rules are.

I want to turn, more broadly, though, now to the Latino vote, the vote among Hispanics.

You know, Patricia Lopez, in Minnesota, I know the Latino community is not enormous,

but to the Hispanic voters, Latino voters you speak with, what are they saying about

this election, about the thinking, the choice between President Trump and Joe Biden?

PATRICIA LOPEZ: There's a lot of energy among these voters. They are engaged in a way that

I think they haven't always been, because, as they told me, they feel a direct connection

between the policies and the effects on their lives.

A lot of them have seen that play out on the immigration front. We have a lot of what are

called mixed status families here. So you have DACA recipients. You have older people

who have been -- immigrated themselves, young American-born children.

And so all of them see a direct connection. There's a lot of, anti-Trump energy. The enthusiasm

for Biden is not quite as high. A lot of them are more intent on voting against Trump than

for Biden.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Daniel Garza, what about the Latino -- I know you're very involved

in the organization LIBRE, but, even beyond that, as you talk to people you know about

the Latino vote, what are you hearing?

DANIEL GARZA: Look, I think there's something different this time around for Donald Trump,

in that he actually has a record that he can showcase.

And it was one that benefited the Latino community tremendously, with record unemployment, record

labor participation rates, record wage growth, and record homeownership. These are all things

that help tremendously to increase the prosperity for Latinos. And so they have now, as opposed

to, in 2016, a record to run on.

At the same time. I think they're generating a lot of excitement. They're mobilizing Latinos

to recruit Latinos, to persuade Latinos. This is very important, because, for Latinos, it's

very important that we relate to the messenger, folks who share -- who have a shared language,

a shared culture, shared experiences.

And when Latinos are going door to door talking to Latinos, this generates excitement. The

flotillas, the caravans, the in-person events that the president is doing is also generating

a lot of excitement.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, to clarify, you're saying that's happening, despite the pandemic?

DANIEL GARZA: That is happening despite the pandemic.

Obviously, I think people are trying to take steps in respecting the protocols for the

restrictions in state by state. We're going to make sure that we comply fully with Arizona

state laws when we have our policy meeting with the vice president.

But it will be in-person with an audience. Absolutely, it will.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Patricia Lopez, what about in your -- what kind of outreach are you seeing

from the Biden and the Trump campaigns, door-to-door, vs. virtual?

PATRICIA LOPEZ: I think a lot of it has been virtual.

The candidates themselves -- and we will have both President Trump and Vice President Biden

- - well, former Vice President Biden here on Friday, when early voting starts. So, that

will be sort of a kickoff for that kind of in-person engagement.

But there have been door-to-door volunteers. I don't think there is the sense here that

the Trump record has been particularly positive for Latinos, not among the people I have talked

to. They are -- they're wary. I think they have seen a lot of the effects of deportations,

their concerns about ICE, their concerns about COVID regarding essential workers and a sense

that they don't really count for as much as others do.

And that's been really disturbing to a lot of them.

The one thing I do keep hearing about is that a lot of them are very intrigued by Kamala

Harris. And they feel that she may be part of a new message, a new tone that the Biden

camp is trying to send, disconnecting them a little bit from the Obama administration,

because Obama was a very mixed bag for them.

He did create the DACA program, but there were a lot of deportations under President

Obama. And for some in the Latino community, that's been a little hard to get behind. But

they feel, overall, much worse under Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So interesting.

We're going to continue to reach out to the two of you throughout this campaign. We thank

you.

Patricia Lopez, Daniel Garza, thank you.

PATRICIA LOPEZ: Thank you.