Educating, engaging and mobilizing Latino voters

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

There’s no doubt about it, 2012 is a big political year.

Nationally, there’s the presidential election and in California, voters will cast their ballots using new redistricting maps, test drive the top-two primary, and vote for many elected offices and critically important ballot measures.

Latinos, the fastest growing population, making up nearly half of the state, will be a crucial voting block for politicians.

 “If ever there is a time where passion and energy are needed, it’s this election!”

Those strong words are from political analyst and keynote speaker of the 18th annual Latina Action Day, Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.

Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) hosted the event in Sacramento recently. About 450 Latinas, young and old, from various regions, attended.

“It is really exciting to look around the room to feel that energy to see young Latinas poised to climb the ladder,” said Deborah Bowen, Secretary of State.

California Forward sponsored the event and as an organization stressed that getting involved in the political process is the key to affecting change in the Latino community as well as in the state as a whole.

“I think we need to do better job in our resources in reaching Latino voters because it’s always about the next election and it’s not about keeping sustained culture of participation,” said Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

“We also need to do a better job of connecting voting and what government does so that people see there is a connection between public policy and the quality of life.”

This year, nearly 12.2 million Latinos will head to the polls to vote in November — a 20% increase from 2008. Yet, voter registration is extremely low.

“Many times what happens in the Latino community is they don’t see the relevancy of being involved in the political process and part of that is we don’t have Latinos running for office,” said Ana Caballero, Secretary of State and Consumer Agency Services. “When you see a Latino running for elected office they end up communicating directly with the electorate and talking about things important to the Latino community.”

Latinas, in particular, can make a difference and get to the heart of issues that matter to them by being a part of the solution.

Dr. DeFranceso Soto said, “this is the most important election of our generation because our community is at a crossroads! We need our voice, we need leadership at every level.”

At the end of the day, it is the best way for Latinos in California to make their voices heard, become a part of the solution, and help move the state forward.

Watch the video coverage below:


Cheryl Getuiza

All stories by: Cheryl Getuiza