By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
Key national media outlets are highlighting the growing power of the Latino vote, and the pivotal role Latinos could play in shaping the results of November’s elections.
While much about this election season has confounded expectations, one electoral forecast is happening as predicted: The Latino electorate continues to grow rapidly, and Latino voters are poised to shape the results of contests up and down the ballot. Parties and candidates that do not seriously compete for Latino voters’ support, or whose engagement is limited and last-minute, do so at their own peril.
Despite some who insist that “Latino” means “immigrant,” we know that more than three out of four Latinos in our country are U.S. citizens. Between the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections, the number of Latinos voting grew by 89%.
Yet there is still much work to do to ensure that the Latino community’s voice at the polls is as big as our numbers and our contributions to this country. We know that in presidential elections, more than 80% of registered Latinos turn out to vote. We need to do more as a country, to reach the estimated 12 million eligible Latinos who are not yet registered. The National Council of La Raza is working with its Affiliate organizations to work on closing that gap.
During an election cycle when many in the Latino community feel scapegoated or ignored, the best response remains to roll up our sleeves and raise the community’s voice. Voting is one of the tools we have. We must use it in this and every election whether it be local, state or national wide. Casting a vote for every position on that ballot because they all affect the lives of our families, our communities, and our country.