Latino Civic Engagement Groups Unite to Mobilize Millions of Unregistered Latino Voters
A coalition of national Latino civic engagement organizations have united to further engage Latinos to vote.
Motivating Millions of Unregistered Latino Voters
On Wednesday morning, leaders from the National Latino Civic Engagement Table, comprised of the Hispanic Federation, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Latino Victory Foundation, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota Education Fund (MFVEF), National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Voto Latino, gathered to announce a "strategic voter engagement partnership" to motivate the Latino electorate to vote. The National Latino Civic Engagement Table acknowledged that over 27 million Latinos are registered to vote this year, yet only more than 12 million of the aforementioned eligible voters will remain unregistered.
"The Latino community is growing, but demography isn't destiny -- numbers alone are not enough. When Latinos and Latinas don't participate and don't vote, we are robbed of a voice and a seat at the table," said Latino Victory Foundation President Cristobal Alex in a statement on Wednesday. "And the old saying is true: If you're not at the table, you're on the menu. That's why we're all here. Because we want to ensure that our community is engaged, informed, registered, and ready to vote. Latinos have proven in the past that we can make a difference. 2016 won't be the exception."
"The road to the White House goes through the streets of the Latino barrios," said MFVEF Executive Director Ben Monterroso. "Any candidate who aspires to represent us needs to engage in meaningful conversation with the Latino community on the topics that affect us: immigration, healthcare, education, workers' rights and climate change. We continue working diligently to convey to our community that by electing the government officials and representatives that will best fight for our families, our community and our country, we will take charge of our destiny and shape our future. It is time to say enough, enough of using our families and our ethnic and racial heritage as political pawns and scapegoats."
According to Hector Sanchez, executive director for LCLAA and chair for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), the Latino electorate has been a decisive element in previous presidential elections. The organizations are committed to expanding and mobilizing Latinos in order to have a "real impact" on Election Day again this November. For LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes, voting allows Latinos to fight back against the anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric coming from the presidential campaign trail.
Turnout in Nevada
Only two states have held their caucus or primary elections. While Iowa saw increased engagement among Latino caucus-goers, Nevada appears to be the true test of Latino voters. The rate of registered Latino voters once again increased to new heights, compared to the 72,000 Latinos who registered in 2004. As NALEO revealed on Tuesday, more than 194,000 registered Latino voters are expected to participate in the Nevada caucus.
"During past presidential elections, Latinos in Nevada have played a significant role in deciding the winning candidate. In 2016 our organizations are working to ensure that the state's 328,000 registered Latino voters are well informed, not only on where to vote, but also on the candidates' views on issues that matter to Latinos. Our efforts in Nevada will build on our recent success in Iowa," said Wilkes in a statement. Wilkes' reference was to the fact LULAC contacted nearly 50,000 Latinos in Iowa through phone calls, mailers and caucus training, successfully reaching its goal in attracting more than 10,000 Latinos to participate in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.
"In the end, we will demonstrate that the Latino vote matters and candidates who engage in hateful rhetoric will pay the price at the ballot box," he added.
According to NALEO Executive Director Arturo Vargas on Tuesday, Nevada's Latino voters will play a decisive role in electing the next U.S. president, and the presidential candidates need to do a lot more than release Spanish-language advertisements.
"Candidates and political parties will need to acknowledge the diversity of this increasingly influential electorate by engaging Latino voters in both English and Spanish on the issues that matter most," said Vargas.