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. Amazon HQ2

    Amazon’s HQ2 Fiasco Will Cost the Company More Than It Costs New York

    The mega-company has bucked dealing reasonably with New York City, Seattle, and any community that asks them to pay for its freight.

  2. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  3. A photo of a visitor posing for a photo with Elvis in downtown Nashville
    Perspective

    Cities: Don’t Fall in the Branding Trap

    From Instagram stunts to Edison bulbs, why do so many cities’ marketing plans try to convince people that they’re exactly like somewhere else?

  4. A husband and wife kiss on the Empire State Building after their Valentine's Day Wedding
    Life

    The Cities With the Most Singles

    Where you live can have a big impact on your Valentine’s Day by changing the odds of meeting potential mates.

  5. a photo of high-speed rail tracks under construction in Fresno, California.
    Transportation

    Think of California High-Speed Rail as an $11 Billion Streetcar

    California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to complete only a Central Valley segment of the rail link risks turning the transportation project into an economic development tool.