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In Latino Communities, Few Are Lukewarm About Chance to Vote

"When is it?" he asked.

"When is what?" Guizarnotegui answered.

"When is the vote?" Rodriguez repeated.

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"November 2," Guizarnotegui said. "That's a Tuesday. We can count on your vote, then?"

"I'll be there," Rodriguez said.

Guizarnotegui was off to a slow start this weekend -- nearly three hours of going door to door yielded no new registrations -- but he was hardly discouraged. "Tomorrow," he said, climbing into his car, "will be better."

The sun returned just as he and another volunteer arrived at St. James Catholic Church, putting pamphlets on a folding table outside the chapel. Guizarnotegui approached the parishioners in the corridor one by one as they left.

"Are you registered to vote?" He could barely get the words out when Marguerita Nevarez eagerly took a step toward him.

"No, I'm not," she said, grabbing the hand of her daughter as the 4-year-old began to wander away. "What do I need to do?"

"Are you a citizen?" Guizarnotegui asked her.

"Yes," Nevarez answered. "I want to vote."

She is 32, the mother of three children, a receptionist in a dental office. She has been a citizen for 12 years but has never voted.

"I just feel this is a real important time," she said as she finished the registration form. "I'm not into politics, but I just feel that we really need to change direction in this country. Everybody is so focused on the war in Iraq. Well, what about the living?

"I don't have health care. What happens if someone in my family gets really sick? They need to speed up the immigration process. People work hard and obey the laws, and they can't be with their families? That's not right.

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