By Cindy Hernandez
Despite the growing numbers of Latinx eligible voters, voter turnout rates have continued to stay below 50%.
Mark Hugo Lopez, director of global migration and demographic research at Pew Research Center held a virtual presentation Wednesday as part of the University of Louisville Hispanic/Latinx Initiative programming for Hispanic Heritage month.
Lopez’s presentation mentioned several voting trends among Latinx populations and youth voters.
Lopez explained that Pew Research Center estimates about 32 million Latinx are eligible to vote. However, most will not vote or even register to do so. He explains one reason is because there is a lack of outreach in Latinx communities.
“The message that is important to take away from this is that it really matters if you just ask somebody to vote,” said Lopez. “You don’t have to be partisan. You just have to go knock on the door and say ‘It’s important that you get out and vote today or it’s really important that you register let me help you with that.’”
He said that Latinx youth voting participation can double if conversations about it are brought up.
Marcos Morales, program coordinator of the Hispanic/Latinx Initiatives program said he believes that Latinx populations have the power to influence and gain political power but there is a lack of voting culture among the communities.
“We are established in the numbers but as a people I don’t feel that we have that culture yet where we feel we have power in the ballot,” said Morales. “We don’t have that voting culture established yet.
According to Pew Research more than half of Latinx eligible voters are Millennials or younger, meaning that they are between the ages of 18 and 35. Lopez said this is opposite of white populations where most voters are over the age of 35.
“We see many young Latinos have over the last few years engaged in protests and protests is a way of getting civically involved and expressing your voice,” said Lopez. “It may be different than voting but it matters too.”
Lopez said it’s important to keep stressing the importance of civic engagement among the youth.
“If there’s an opportunity to do something, to change the world, it’s up to you to do that no matter how hard it may seem,” he said.