‘Voto Latino’ Leverages Talent for 2012 Elections

Erica Saylor by Erica Saylor, Tr3s

Voto Latino, a non-partisan organization founded to register and engage young Latino voters, is at the intersection of popular culture and politics. Given 50% of all eligible Latino voters are under 40 and 33% are between 18 and 34, the organization is leveraging its celebrity roster including Rosario Dawson (Co-Founder and Chairwoman), America Ferrera, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Pitbull, and Wilmer Valderrama to connect with Hispanic Millennials. Through the creative and effective use of celebrity voices and the latest technology to register young Latino voters, the organization is galvanizing youth to speak up and take action on policies impacting their lives.

A glimpse into the future shows that by 2050, Latino youth are expected to comprise 29% of the total U.S. youth population. With this insight, it is important to utilize many methods to mobilize Latino youth to go cast their ballot and make their voice count. This year, Voto Latino developed a smart phone Application available in the iTunes store that expedites voter registration at the touch of a button and provides local voting guides and information. Multi-faceted entertainer Wilmer Valderrama, along with a dozen other big-name celebrities, appear in a video campaign urging young people to vote with taglines including, “United We Win”, “It’s Your Country. Vote.” and “Register. Vote. Live Your Legacy.”

Since its inception in 2004, the organization estimates its civic engagement campaigns have reached an estimated 55 million Latino households nationwide. In the 2008 presidential election, Voto Latino leveraged social media and celebrity participation in five battleground states, all of which saw Latino voter participation increase 5% or more above the national average. Voto Latino’s benefit album produced with Apple iTunes during the 2008 election was the top selling album on iTunes Latino for weeks.

Using technology, music, and cultural figures, Voto Latino is a superb model for connecting with this diverse and growing community. Best practices include:

  • Voto Latino’s ‘United We Win’ 2010 mid-term election campaign registered more than 10,500 new young voters in four weeks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and Texas.
  • Voto Latino’s “Be Counted” 2010 Census campaign was iTunes’ #1 campaign in 2010 in terms of customer acquisition/conversion rate. More than 100,000 iTunes cards were distributed through their on-the-ground network.
  • Voto Latino’s ‘Be Counted’ Census campaign trended top 8 globally on Twitter and became a top 4 non-profit channel on YouTube with more than 500,000 views, generating 15,000 pledges to fill out the Census and $150 million in federal funding for Latino communities.

Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues. Voto Latino’s creative multi-media campaigns combined with a coalition of more than 40 dedicated actors, musicians and celebrities are helping to unify and empower today’s large and diverse Latin youth population. Its dedication to bringing new and diverse voices into the political process is evident by its philosophy of “United We Win.”

Sources: HuffingtonPost.com, PBS.org, VotoLatino.org

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