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Nevada Unions Make Final Push To Mobilize Voters

Lauren Foliart |
November 5, 2012 | 11:30 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


SEIU volunteer Angel Rangel waiting at the door of a suburban Las Vegas home while canvassing in support of Obama. (Lauren Foliart)
SEIU volunteer Angel Rangel waiting at the door of a suburban Las Vegas home while canvassing in support of Obama. (Lauren Foliart)
HENDERSON, Nevada -- "We rock, we roll, Obama's in control!"

That's the mantra Sandy Layton and Angel Rangel recite before every canvassing shift. They're volunteers for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Nevada and they support President Barack Obama.

It's 10 a.m. and the Nevada desert has already reached 80 degrees on Nov. 5, the Monday before Election Day.  I've joined Layton and Rangel on their final round of canvassing.

"This is our final push," Rangel said.  "We want to make sure that people know the only way to show support for the president is by voting for him on Tuesday."

Their energy is relentless despite the heat, and the general nature of canvassing, but it never once feels forced.  Both women work for hospitals in the Las Vegas area - Rangel for University Medical Center and Layton for St. Rose Dominican Hospital.  They became friends through volunteering with SEIU. 

"I got more politically active when I joined my union two years," Rangel tells me. "SEIU, they really want you to do the research.  So I got educated and started volunteering."

Unions like SEIU Nevada and the local Culinary Union received credit as the force behind mobilizing Latino voters not just in the state but also nationally.  

Late in October, the union announced its spending of $250,000 in Colorado, Florida and Nevada to air ads on Spanish language television stations, saying Obama will create greater access to healthcare and educate children if elected as president for four more years.  

Those issues brought Rangel to her feet in August when she started volunteering in support of Obama.  A mother and a daughter, she wants to see the president is reelected so that her family is taken care of.  

"The reason I'm out here walking is because of my kids.  I want them to have better opportunities," Rangel says of her three daughters who are all under the age of 10.  "When one teacher has up to 40 or 50 kids in the classroom it's more like babysitting than it is educating."

SEE ALSO: Obama Nevada Campaign Volunteers Explain Their Pitch To Voters

Rangel goes on to tell me about her mother who passed away three years ago and struggled to get the care she needed up until her final hours.  Now as she watches her father battle with diabetes at an elderly age, she can't help but think how his care will be impacted if Romney were to be elected.

"[My father] was asking for help to pay for his medications and even stopped some of them so he didn't have to pay,"  Rangel said.  "But he's very happy with Obamacare."

As we walk around the suburban city of Henderson, southeast of Las Vegas, everything starts to look the same - two story homes with peach stucco walls and ceramic spanish-style roofs characterizes every home on every street.

But the same can't be said for the people who answer the doors.  Each time, it's someone of a different demographic.  

First, a middle-aged caucasian women comes to the door in her slippers.  Her husband isn't home, but she assures Rangel both of them will be at the polls tomorrow, voting for Obama.

Three-doors down an African-American male answers. He lives with his mother.

"Do you work?" Rangel asks him.

"No," he responds timidly.

"Then please make sure it's the first thing you do tomorrow," she says. "And take your mother with you."

Rangel likes to start with a simple questions like if they have a job.  That way, she says, the person can start mentally planning their day with voting in mind.

"I also like to tell them that Republicans usually wait until Election Day to vote and that absentee ballots are still being counted," she adds.  "It's a way of telling them how important it is for them to go out and vote regardless if the numbers say [Obama's] going to win."

We stop at a few more houses and no one's home.  Rangel rings twice then leaves a "Vote Tuesday" flier hanging from the door knob that shows a picture of the president wearing his regular blue tie and smile.  

SEE ALSO: Early Votes In Nevada Point To Obama

We walk a bit further and arrive at a house with a sign on the door that says: "No Soliciting."  A younger man in his 30s opens the door wearing sweat pants, though stiff, chunky gel slicks back his hair.

Rangel asks if he's voting tomorrow and he responds: "Probably, but not for any of the big ones. I'll vote Green or something."

Rangel offers her read after departing that doorstep.

"In reality, he knows who he's going to vote for, he just doesn't want to tell us," Rangel says.  "I don't waste time arguing with people because that takes away from all the other homes I could visit."

Reach Staff Reporter Lauren Foliart here.



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