Early voting has already indicated that Latino voters are engaged across the country. But we won’t know this group’s true impact until after the midterms. Still, there’s plenty of reason to believe that members of this community will make their voices heard on November 6. For one, more registered Latino voters have given “quite a lot” of attention to Tuesday’s election than four years ago. Additionally, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) expects 7.8 million Latinos to cast a vote this year, which is a 15 percent increase from 2014, but lower than in 2016.
And though activists and politicians have made strides with this demographic in 2018, there are still many reasons Latinos don’t turn out to vote. One is that campaigns don’t seek them out. Political scientist Bernard Fraga explains that campaigns tend to go after likely voters, instead of mobilizing new voters. And of course, there’s also the fact that our community is not a monolith. We all have different experiences and backgrounds that shape the candidates and policies we favor. All of this and more has made it so Latinos lag behind other groups at the polls.
Curious to learn more about why Latinos don’t vote at the same rate as other demographics, we reached out to three people who will be voting for the first time during the 2018 midterms. Here’s what they had to say.
"I would like to give [voting] a try and do my part."
“My older brother and I were born here, but I was about 2 years when my parents decided to go bak to Mexico. I never really came back to the States for more than one to two weeks, so I wasn’t really familiarized with the voting system.
“I came back to the States four years ago, and I never really got involved in how the elections worked until this last election, but unfortunately… I used to live in Texas and got registered there to vote, and for the last election, I was already living in Utah and never got registered to vote here. But now I’m registered and have learned a little bit more on how the voting system works.
“Even [though] I don’t completely trust/believe in the voting system, I would like to give it a try and do my part to try to change the situation we have been seeing in our country. I want to believe the system can be fixed, and we, as citizens, can help to make that change. Of course, I understand voting is not going to change everything overnight, but there is a lot of people fighting to have a better society, and I believe if we can put the right politicians to work for that, we can become better. Also, I think [these] midterm elections are a fundamental part for the following presidential election.” -Ulises Garcia, who will vote in Utah
"I've been more involved in politics in the last two years."
“I became a US citizen last year, so these are the first elections I am eligible to vote in. [I had to vote in 2018 midterms elections because of] two things. One, because things just feel like they matter more now. Second, because we are underrepresented – as a woman and a Latina. Less of us vote compared to the general population.
“I am a new US citizen. I’m actually the first one in my family to become a citizen. My husband was born in the US, so I always pushed him to represent us and our extended families, and now I can be part of that and vote for my parents and sibling that live in Texas.
“Just like many people, I’ve been more involved in politics in the last two years. So I’ve been learning about the impact local/state elections have at a national level and vice versa. I’ve been reading about the candidates, watched their debates, heard them speak at rallies via Facebook Live. [I’ve] even [checked] out their social media presence to get a sense [of] what they’re like as people. This is all to confirm the candidate that I picked a few months ago was the right one.” -Elsa I. González, who will vote in Texas
"I feel I need to vote this midterm because my voice needs to be heard."
“I had never voted because I didn’t think my one vote would make a difference, but now I know it does. Honestly, I didn’t know much about the voting process so I kind of just ignored it. I feel I need to vote this midterm because my voice needs to be heard. And I believer there needs to be a lot of changes made.
“Women’s rights [is especially important to me]. I have two daughters, and I want them to understand that sometimes you have to fight for what’s right and nobody should be able to dictate what we do with our bodies. Immigrants rights, especially those seeking asylum, [also matter to me].
“I’ve been preparing by watching debates and by reading about candidates I will definitely continue to vote. I feel like it’s my duty now.” -Lori Marquez, who will vote in Texas