The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), founded in 1974, is the largest and oldest non-partisan Latino voter participation organization in the United States. SVREP is a 501(c)3, national nonprofit organization. It was founded by the late William C. Velasquez and other Mexican-American political activists to ensure the voting rights of Mexican-Americans in the Southwest.

The SVREP mobilizes the Latino vote and empowers the Latino community to build a stronger and more open democratic society by engaging Latinos in the electoral process. Much progress has been made toward this goal. The number of Latinos registered to vote in America has increased from 2.1 million in 1974 to 15.5 million in 2016. Latino voter turnout has grown from 1.3 million to 13.5 million in the general elections held from 1994 to 2016.

SVREP has played a major role in the expansion of the Latino Vote in the US. Since opening its doors in 1974, SVREP has registered 2.7 million Latinos to vote, trained 150,000 Latino leaders and won 155 voting rights lawsuits. Many former SVREP trainees serve as elected officials, and as heads of nonprofits, unions, and businesses. In 2006, it was determined by the Irvine Foundation that SVREP increased voter turnout by 9.2% over the expected turnout for that election cycle.

Mission and Operations

SVREP's mission is to empower Latinos and other minorities by increasing their participation in the American democratic process.

We do this by strengthening the capacity, experience and skills of Latino leaders, networks, and organizations through programs that consistently train, organize, finance, development, expand and mobilize Latino leaders and voters around an agenda that reflects their values. Thus, SVREP's motto: "Su Voto Es Su Voz" (Your Vote is Your Voice).

SVREP conducts voter registration projects to register, educate, and promote voting in the upcoming elections. SVREP also organizes nonpartisan Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) drives to remind Latino voters of upcoming elections and the importance of their participation. SVREP also advocate at the local, state, and national levels to raise awareness and support voting rights public policies.

Another key initiative for SVREP is the Latino Academy. The Latino Academy prepares and educates individuals on public speaking, governance, and activism; once participants have completed the training tracts, they are eligible to act as project coordinators, treasurers, and chairs for a voter registration project in their community. Through the program individuals are exposed to grassroots organizing and voter registration and mobilization. There are two participatory levels for individuals, one being centered on youth and one for experienced activists. SVREP also offers financial assistance to cover the cost of room, board, and training materials for those that cannot cover their own expenses.

This is relevant today because of the growing clout of Latino voters.

Leadership and Advocacy

Over the course of 45 years, SVREP has been at the forefront of major social and political gains for Latinos in the U.S. and throughout Latin America. SVREP organizes and educates leaders and elected officials.

With nearly 60 million Latinos in the U.S., SVREP's messages and efforts address broad-based human concerns that cross-cultural barriers and apply to all people. With telecommunications technologies and the media strategies including social media, SVREP expands its efforts grassroots to educate and increase the civic as well as the economic participation of Latinos in the democratic process, as well as strengthens the growing Latino electorate.

Lydia Camarillo, President

Lydia Camarillo serves as president of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), the largest and oldest national non-profit, nonpartisan organization of its kind, based out of San Antonio, Texas. Lydia plays a key role in developing and executing strategies for SVREP’s nonpartisan mobilization efforts.

Under Lydia’s and former SVREP President Gonzalez, the Latino participation in the democratic process has almost tripled, from 1994 to today, from 5.4 million Latinos registered to vote to 15.5 million in 2016. In the 2018, the turnout for Latinos grew by 4.9% compared to the 2014 midterm general elections. Over 11.7 million Latinos turned out to vote in the 2018 general midterm elections, compared to 6.8 million in 2014 general elections.

See Charts below.

National Latino Vote for Midterm Elections, 1998 to 2018

Sources: WCVI, US Census
VR = Voter Registration
VC = Votes Cast

*2020 Projections

Lydia Camarillo succeeds Antonio González (1994 to 2018) as president of SVREP in December of 2018. González succeeded Andrew “Andy” Hernandez in September of 1994 becoming the longest serving president of SVREP. Hernandez became president in July 1988. In 1974, Willie Velasquez (1974 to 1988) became the first president of SVREP. Camarillo is the fourth to serve as president of SVREP.

See Lydia Camarillo full bio, click here.

Today, SVREP conducts voter activities in some 14 states depending on the resources it raises:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Virginia
Pacific Northwest
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Idaho

National Administrative Office
320 El Paso Street
San Antonio, Texas 78207
Phone: (210) 922-0225
Fax: (210) 932-4055

California Regional Office
2914 N. Main St. 1st Floor, Suite B
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Phone: 323-205-2190
Fax: 323-205-1419

Click here for additional contact information