Latinos are the fastest-growing and second largest populace in the United States. According to projections from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, more than 12.2 million Latino voters are expected to cast ballots on Election Day, an increase of 26% from 2008.
Young Latinos represent a major part of shaping the nation’s future vote and its electorate. Today every 30 seconds, a Latino turns 18 years old in the United States. In 2012, approximately 2.4 million more U.S.-born Latinos will be over 18 years old than versus the 2008 election.
The power of this segment of the population is strong. Collectively their voice has the potential to be heard. Voting figures from NALEO show that between 2004 and 2008 the turnout of eligible Latino voters age 18-24 increased from 33% to 39%, and in 2008, one in seven Latino voters were in that age group. This year’s presidential election will show percentage increases in voter turnout, especially in California, Florida and Illinois. In California, New Mexico and Texas, one in five voters will be Latino.
However, there is plenty of work to do to fully engage Latinos and Hispanic Millennials in the voting process. For example, in 2008, 19.5 million Latinos were eligible to vote, but half did not cast ballots, because they were not registered or did not turn out. Candidates must enhance their campaign strategies to reach all Latino voters, engaging both native-born and the naturalized. National, state and local candidates must sincerely address the issues that affect Latinos today, immigration, education, healthcare and economic growth.
Candidates can help mobilize the Latino youth vote by ensuring they are informed, empowered and most importantly, inspired. Barriers that prevent participation, not limited to language, must be addressed and eliminated.
A renewed outreach strategy to increase voter registration and voter turnout can succeed by tuning into cultural nuances of today’s booming and diverse Latino population, including the coveted Hispanic Millennial group. Campaign strategies need to ttap into the communication channels that engage this segment by having a robust presence t within the communication channels these young Latinos are connecting with and tuned into. Candidates can reach these voters by becoming more aware of their diverse cultural identities.
By familiarizing themselves with Latino outreach organizations and bilingual/bicultural media, campaign strategists can begin to reach Hispanic Millennials and inspire them to vote.
*Source: National Association of Latino Elected Officials http://www.naleo.org/latinovote.html
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