Courtesy of Mi Familia Vota

Texas joins the growing movement to get food-truck customers to vote.

A few weeks ago, when the founder of the group called Latinos for Trump went on MSNBC to warn of a deliciously dystopian future in which immigrant-staffed taco trucks would invade every corner of the nation, many Americans leaped on this unusual convergence of carne asada and national politics as an opportunity to wonder whether voting and tacos can go hand-in-hand. As CityLab reported, one county official in Idaho came up with a food-truck-inspired mobile polling scheme. Now taco trucks in Houston are registering voters.

On Tuesday, which doubled as Taco Tuesday and National Voter Registration Day, local design firm Rigsby Hull teamed up with the nonprofit Mi Familia Vota (MFV) to send out a fleet of eight taco trucks that will also serve as registration booths. The campaign, which emerged in response to Marcos Gutierrez’s comments, runs until October 11, the last day for voters to register.

“The Latino community and immigrants in general have a lot to contribute,” says Carlos Duarte, Texas state director at MFV, “not only our gastronomy but also our civic participation.”

This is an issue of particular urgency in Texas, which has had one of the nation’s worst voter turnout in past years, ranking second to last during the primaries, after Louisiana. When Duarte visited the Tierra Caliente truck, he got a hint of why: While most white and black patrons said they were already registered, many in the Latino community weren’t. Some took forms for themselves, others lacked citizenship but grabbed one for a family member. And still others simply claimed they just weren’t going to vote this year—“believe it or not,” he says.

The staff at MFV has been training owners on how to engage their customers. And while the organization can’t send volunteers to every site, Duarte says they try to stop by a few trucks during peak hours to answer questions about the voting process. “Even if not everybody who comes needs to be registered, or is eligible, the conversation that civic engagement is so important is also part of our message,” he says.

It’s not just Houston that’s taking advantage of America’s reignited passion for #tacotrucksoneverycorner. Earlier in September, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce launched the “Guac the Vote” campaign to get taco truck owners to register customers to vote as a collective response to Gutierrez’s alarm. From Detroit to New York to Austin, the responses have been gaining momentum. The campaign also urged owners to then park their trucks at polling places on Election Day as a symbolic gesture. Thomas Hull, principal designer of Rigsby Hull, told Houston Public Media that registering people is only half the battle, he said. “The other half is getting folks to the polls.”

Consider the taco you buy afterwards as a reward—a pat on the back, if you will—for fulfilling your own patriotic responsibility.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    How Australia Conquered Guns, and Why America Can't

    Gun control advocates point to Australia for inspiration in ending gun violence. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, thinks they should stop.

  2. Medics take a woman out of a grocery store where she was found unresponsive after overdosing on opioids.
    Life

    The Real Cause of the Opioid Crisis

    According to a new study, economic despair is not the primary factor driving abuse of opioids.

  3. Life

    8 Tools We Used to Navigate the World Around Us Before GPS and Smartphones

    A new Smithsonian exhibit takes on the history of "getting from here to there."

  4. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  5. A man waters plants in a rooftop garden on top of Le Bon Marché department store in Paris.
    Environment

    Big Data Suggests Big Potential for Urban Farming

    A global analysis finds that urban agriculture could yield up to 10 percent of many food crops, plus a host of positive side benefits.