Omaha Public Radio News
12:16 pm
Tue January 26, 2010

Report examines voter behavior and student participation in electoral process

Omaha, NE – Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Assistant Director for Research and Outreach of the Office of Latino and Latin American Studies at UNO (OLLAS), recently released a report detailing the results of Project Animate. This service project, funded by the office of the Nebraska Secretary of State, took place in South Omaha, from the winter of 2007, leading up to the 2008 General Election.

Dr. Benjamin-Alvarado says the project aimed to promote student civic participation through Latino voter mobilization. For this project, he enlisted the aid of student volunteers, who went door-to-door, canvassing 32 precincts in South Omaha over a four-week period. Materials were distributed in Spanish and English, with simple messages that gave the voters the information they needed to know, so they could be more confident going to the polls.

The results of these efforts were clear after Election Day. 70% of these new registered voters turned out at the polls. Dr. Benjamin-Alvarado says he was expecting a maximum of 50% and was pleased with the final numbers.

According to Dr. Benjamin-Alvarado, one of the most wonderful effects of Project Animate has been on the students involved, many of whom have moved on to public service careers. Due to its success,
OLLAS will offer a limited version of Project Animate this year in conjunction with the congressional election.