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Immigrant efforts helping election

From Florida to California, they're working hard on the upcoming election – knocking on doors in ethnic neighborhoods, manning the phones in myriad languages and distributing political flyers. But come Tuesday, they won't vote. They can't: They're not citizens.

The excitement that has made American voter registration numbers soar has trickled deep into the country's immigrant population.

But almost two-thirds of the 37.5 million foreign-born people in the United States have not taken the oath of allegiance, and are shut out from casting a ballot.

Non-citizen immigrants, legal or not, are putting their time and their effort where their vote would be.

“There are a lot of people who want to be voters one day, but it can take a lot of time,” said Kishan Putta, national director of Indians for McCain. “They do want to get involved. They're calling, wanting to participate.”

Leaders of immigration advocacy organizations say this population is stepping up.

“There are millions out there who have not yet become citizens, who need somewhere to plug in, to become part of the process that gets those who can out to vote,” said Efrain Escobedo, director of voter engagement for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, which has used non-citizens to turn out new voters.

The concerns that are driving some of them to do election work are largely the same ones energizing Americans – the sagging economy, fear of unemployment, worries about health care and the quality of schools.

“These are things that keep you up at night,” said Hernan Cortez, 30, a Salvadoran who has been knocking on doors to get out the vote in Aurora, Colo.

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