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Latina Lista: News from the Latino perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > New Census report shows critical segment of Latino population not voting

New Census report shows critical segment of Latino population not voting

Voting booths at Hermosa Beach City Hall during California Primary

LatinaLista — Ever since Obama came into office, Republicans in Congress have tried to block, stall and thwart any policy or issue Obama and the Democrats wanted to pass. It’s a tactic that has not only garnered the Legislative Branch of government the dubious title of the “do-nothing Congress,” but it has turned off a lot of people to politics and the political process.

A new analysis by the U.S. Census underscores just how disenchanted Americans are becoming with the political process.

Who Votes? Congressional Elections and the American Electorate: 1978–2014 reveals that the voting rates for everyone, except those 65 and older, dropped between 1978-2014.

“In recent congressional elections, we’ve seen low levels of engagement among young people and the opposite for older Americans,” said Thom File, a Census Bureau sociologist and the report’s author, in a news release. “These age differences cut across racial and ethnic groups as well. Regardless of whether we’re looking at non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks or Hispanics, voting rates tend to increase significantly with age.”

Using turnout rates for the 2014 congressional election, researchers found a troubling trend among Latinos and Latinas under the age of 65.

  • Voting rates for Hispanics declined from 1978 to 2014, dropping to a rate lower than their eligibility by 4.1 percentage points in the 2014 election.
  • 65% of Latinos, ages 18-24, did not vote in 2014; 64% of Latinos, ages 25-44, did not vote.
  • 67% of Latinas, ages 18-24, did not vote in 2014; 59% of Latinas, ages 25-44, did not vote.

According to the data, the non-voting rates dropped for both Latinos and Latinas, ages 45-64 — “only” 48% of Latinos didn’t make it to the polls, whereas 46% of Latinas didn’t show up.

With the 2016 presidential campaign underway and politicians lumping Latinos together in their disparaging remarks about immigration, these statistics are disturbing. According to Pew Research:

For Hispanics, however, young people are a larger share of eligible voters than they are among other groups. In 2014, 33% of Hispanic eligible voters are ages 18 to 29. By comparison, among white eligible voters, 18% are in that age group. And, among blacks, that share is 25%. Among Asians, 21% are between ages 18 and 29.

Hispanic youth will also be the main driver of growth in the number of Hispanic eligible voters nationally in the coming decades. Currently, some 800,000 U.S. born Hispanics turn 18 each year, with one million or more expected to reach adulthood annually by 2024. And by 2030, the number of Hispanic eligible voters is projected to top more than 40 million.

The census data is disturbing because it shows that young Latino voters:

1. Don’t understand the power of their votes
2. Don’t think their votes can change anything
3. Don’t understand how politics happening in Washington, DC impacts their lives, wherever they live
4. Don’t understand the difference they can make for themselves, their families and their communities.

As a community, Latinos are intent to preserve the culture, history and traditions. Boycotts, protests, hunger strikes and rallies are ways Latinos, of all ages, have fought to preserve the collective identity.

But when is the fight to preserve our future going to begin?

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