What brought them out to vote: Hispanics
11% of state's electorate
Victor Manuel Ramos
Sentinel Staff Writer
At age 34, Lourdes Soto of east Orlando voted Tuesday for the first time in her life.
The Puerto Rico native did not care to vote in past elections, but now she is struggling to support her 8-year-old son with a part-time job as a hairstylist. Barack Obama's message of change drew her vote.
"All the money I make goes to rent, and we don't have health insurance," Soto said.
She is among more than 200,000 Hispanic swing voters in Central Florida. Advocates worked diligently to get them to the voting booth.
Hispanics young and old, immigrant and native-born cited economic woes as their top concern.
Cruz Quiles chose a Democrat for president for the first time in more than 50 years.
"Bush made me leave the party and cross the line, because with this government we don't even begin to see a solution," said Quiles, 75, a registered Republican in east Orlando.
Faithful Republicans stood by the principles of smaller government and lower taxation. And they criticized Obama's inexperience, especially in foreign affairs.
"There are a lot of people fixated on the issue of the economy, but the most important matter is really national security," said Hipolito Gonzalez, 53, a computer consultant.
The lines were not extraordinarily long in Hispanic neighborhoods, but there was a constant trickle of voters at several sites, giving local advocates hope for a higher turnout.
Katty Fernandez, a Venezuelan who became a U.S. citizen this year, said
she voted to keep her American dream alive. "We came here with ideals and
looking for change, and we have found this country in a tailspin."