The Texas branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens has stepped up its efforts to get Latinos registered to vote and to have more women in the state running for public office.

According to Linda Chávez, state director of LULAC, in the last few months her organization has carried out a series of workshops and seminars specifically aimed at training women interested in politics.

"We've won a great deal of participation by women and particularly by organizations headed by Latino women who want to get involved in local politics...as a way of helping their respective communities," Chávez said in an interview with Efe.

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"At the same time we're trying to boost the Latino vote in general from about 30 percent to 60 percent, and we're specifically targeting people who are registered voters but don't go to the polls," she said.

LULAC has launched a plan of action to help Hispanic women interested in holding public office obtain all the tools they need to run an effective electoral campaign, Chávez said.

The goal, she added, is to prompt women across Texas to run for school boards and city councils, but also to continue with their higher education and become owners of their own companies.

"Our workshops educate candidates about the positions they can seek in the area where they will run, as well as training them in speaking techniques and the best way to collect campaign contributions," she said.

She also said that the rules governing LULAC, a non-partisan organization, bar it from publicly supporting a candidate, but nothing stops candidates from connecting with an organization that can help them.

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Chávez also said that LULAC has identified several metropolitan areas in Texas with large numbers of Latino voters - Houston, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio and McAllen - where it will focus its efforts in the months preceding the elections.

"And in this electoral year it's important to get out the Hispanic vote because everything indicates that during the next legislative session more bills will be introduced that attempt to discredit the state's immigrant community," she said.

Chávez added that her organization supports comprehensive immigration reform and that her priority is education, an area about whose importance really strikes Hispanic women when they start doing community work.

With more than 5,000 members, the Texas branch of LULAC is the organization's largest.

According to Census data, 37.6 percent of the Texas population is of Latin origin, but less than half is registered to vote.

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