Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Guac the Vote:' Houston Taco Trucks Seek to Register Voters

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Guac the Vote:' Houston Taco Trucks Seek to Register Voters

Article excerpt

HOUSTON * At Tacos Tierra Caliente a food truck parked in a section of Houston where Spanish is spoken as often as English $1.50 can buy such street taco staples as pollo (chicken), barbacoa (shredded beef) and lengua (tongue).

But next to the handwritten chalkboard menu and "cash only" sign is a new red, white and blue placard that commands: "Registrarse y Votar" (Register and Vote). A stack of bilingual voter registration forms and a pen are available nearby for anyone who wants to fill one out while scarfing down their orders.

The taco truck-based voter registration effort in the nation's fourth-largest city, along with a larger "Guac the Vote" drive by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, began a few weeks after a backer of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested the country would be subsumed by Mexican culture if it doesn't tighten its borders.

"You're going to have taco trucks on every corner," Marco Gutierrez, the founder of "Latinos for Trump," told MSNBC on Sept. 1.

Aiming to poke fun at the comments and capitalize on them, Houston designer Thomas Hull created the food truck voter drive in partnership with Mi Familia Vota, a nonpartisan group specializing in Hispanic civil outreach. Eight trucks are now registering voters in Houston.

"It was offensive to some," Hull said of Gutierrez's warning. "At the same time, those of us who live here in Texas find it humorous because there are taco trucks on every corner and we love them."

Gutierrez didn't return phone messages seeking comment.

While waiting to order pork tacos al pastor at another participating truck, El Ultimo Taco, on Houston's west side, Ippolito Garbino picked up a registration form. Later, as he drenched his order in salsa verde, he explained that though he's a noncitizen, he planned to pass the necessary paperwork on to his wife, who is eligible.

The trucks began registering customers Tuesday and will continue to do so until Texas' registration ends Oct. 11.

Mi Familia Vota hopes to use taco trucks in heavily Hispanic parts of Las Vegas once early voting begins in the battleground state of Nevada. It also has been approached by taco trucks interested in setting up at Arizona polling stations on Nov. …

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