This year, a record 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote this election—up from 27.3 million that were eligible in 2016. As the second-fastest growing demographic, Latinos accounted for 18% of the U.S. population last year; and 4 in 5 Latinos (roughly 80%) are U.S. citizens. In key swing state Florida, a record 17% of registered voters in 2020 were Latino—that’s 2.5 million Latinos registered to vote in Florida for this year’s presidential election. According to Pew Research Center, “62% of Latino registered voters identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party while 34% say the same about the Republican Party.”
Despite their power in numbers, the Latino community is considered the sleeping giant because of its potential massive political clout. With millions of eligible Latino voters registered to vote this year (and in any given election), what would happen if every qualified Latino would do just that—register and vote down the ballot by November 3rd, 2020?
The Ease of Registering & Voting in 2020
There’s no denying that many states’ elected officials actively suppress the vote of some of their residents. However, it’s become easier to register and vote by November 3rd. In most places, you can register online, by mail, using registration drives (which could usually be found at supermarkets or college campuses), with the USPS, at the DMV, any city clerk’s office, any state welfare agency or WIC office, and your county’s election office.
In many states, many voters will automatically receive their mail-in ballot via the postal service where they can fill it out, sign it, and mail it back by November 3rd. Most states also have in-person early voting locations or you can always vote in person on Election Day. Just be sure to look into your state’s guidelines! Also note that during the COVID-19 pandemic, these locations might have limited hours of service.
Other Communities Do It
According to the Census, non-Latino whites and non-Latino Blacks vote at around 18% and 11%, respectively—a higher rate than Latinos eligible to vote. Dolores Huerta once said, “[Latinos] don’t realize that they have power. Latinos feel as if they have been discriminated and they think that they don’t matter. But once they understand that they do, it is incredible to see how they get involved.”
“Voting is a fundamental process in our democratic system. It ensures we elect people who represent matters that are important to us. Voting wasn’t always a right. Black people, women, and other disadvantaged groups died fighting for the right to vote,” said Community Advocate Jennifer López. “Ask yourself this: If voting weren’t so critical, why would certain people try to suppress the vote in communities of color?”
Judge’s Party Affiliation
Some would say that judicial elections are just as important as the presidential elections—especially for the Latino and Black community and parents of young Black and Brown boys and men. With the current controversy surrounding our recent Supreme Court Justice confirmation, it’s no wonder that judges wield a certain power that can affect entire communities.
In some states, judicial candidates must list their party affiliation when running for office, but these political affiliations don’t necessarily appear on the ballot. In states like Michigan and Nevada, judicial candidates do not list their party affiliation on the ballot so it would be hard for regular voters to determine how a particular candidate for judgeship views issues like the intersectionality of racial bias and the criminal justice system or how they would interpret the state constitution.
COVID-19 Has Consequences; Elections Do, Too
The action or inaction of voting has shown time and again the impact of who gets elected to office and shows just how it affects the lives, health, and the economic stability of Latino communities and their families. If you are eligible to vote and do not make it a priority, if you only vote for the presidential candidate and nothing else, if you are a proud non-voter, or if you were simply just too busy and somehow unable to utilize all the options available to you, the elections will still go on and somebody will be elected to make decisions that could be detrimental to you, your family, and your community.
If every qualified Latino would register and vote this year, biased elected officials would get the signal that they need to act in the best interest of the community and if they don’t, Latinos could and will vote them out. It is time for the sleeping giant to wake up!