The National Council of La Raza and Mi Familia Vota on Thursday kicked off a campaign to register at least 250,000 new Latino voters with an eye toward the 2014 legislative elections.

Adding the number of Hispanics who are eligible to vote but not registered - 8.6 million - to that of Latino registered voters who didn't go to the polls in 2012 results in a total not far short of the 12.2 million Hispanics who cast ballots in the most recent presidential election, the organizers of the initiative said at a press conference.

With an initial budget of $3 million, the "Mobilize to Vote 2014" campaign will focus at first on the states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

"The Southwest is the region where the Latino community is growing fastest and where some of the largest groups of unregistered voters live. In Texas alone, there are more than 2 million," NCLR president Janet Murguia said.

During the campaign registration forms will be sent to more than 2.5 million potential Latino voters, who will also be called on the telephone to remind them to fill the forms out.

"Elected officials need to pay attention to our issues on a regular basis and consistently engage Latinos. How they react to key issues such as immigration reform will not be forgotten on Election Day," said Ben Monterroso, executive director of the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund.

"We are too important to ignore," he said.

"You have parties and campaigns that are trying to get their specific candidates elected. We look at voter registration and engagement another way. We look at it as a way for Latinos to have their voices heard on issues they care about," Clarissa Martinez De Castro, who directs NCLR's immigration and civic engagement campaigns, said. EFE