New report sheds light on Latino voting trends

150 150 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: Nathan Gibbs)

More Latinos are registered to vote in California and they are less likely to be Democrats than in years past. However, most eligible Latinos don’t vote.

Those are some of the findings of a report issued by the California Civic Engagement Project at the University of California, Davis.

The report prepared by Mindy Romero, CCEP Project Director, examines three areas:

1. The Changing Latino Vote over the last decade where we’ve seen a dramatic increase in Latino voter registration and increase in the share of California’s vote, but still only 2 out of 5 eligible California Latinos voted in the 2012 Presidential Election.

Eligible non Latinos are voting at a rate 17 percentage points higher than Latinos.

2. Latinos are still more likely to be Democrat than Republican, but that dominance is slipping, from 66 percent in 2002 to 59 percent now. But those California Latinos aren’t migrating to the Republican party, they are now more likely to label themselves as independents, the no party preference increasing seven percentage points in the last decade.

3. The Latino share of the voting population in California is going to continue to increase and will represent 30 percent of the actual state vote in 2040, compared to 19 percent last year. (This number is based on the current rate of turnout…if that turnout increases so would the 30 percent)

The question this report raises is what can be done to increase Latino voter participation.

Efforts are underway.

The Future of California Elections has a number of member groups working to address the issue of increasing voter participation in California, where the state ranks a paltry 45th among states where people eligible to vote actually cast their ballots.

“The Latino electorate’s participation in the 2012 election reached historic heights in California and nationwide, but we still have progress to make,” stated Arturo Vargas, NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director. “Going forward, we will continue our longstanding efforts to actively engage Latino voters and ensure one of California’s most significant electorates has the access and information necessary to reach its full political potential in the future.”

The League of Women Voters of California has the Smart Voter tool that it is bringing to a “next generation” level and have recognized the need to connect with the majority non-voting population.

Ernie Ting, the Senior Director for Smart Voter with the LWV CA Education Fund, encourages all Californians to take advantage of the Next Generation beta version of Smart Voter.  “It’s designed to be especially helpful for the quick information needs and smaller touch screens of smartphone and tablet owners — but provides a thought-provoking experience for laptop and desktop computer users too with extensive video, audio and graphics to help voters understand their choices feel empowered to make those decisions at the ballot box,” said Ting.

Greenlining has been conducting listening tours around California to solicit opinions on how to increase the vote and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) has launched a Language Assistance Survey to County Registrars in California to identify and promote the best practices in providing language assistance to the state’s diverse electorate.

“California Forward believes in a vibrant and responsive democracy which has been a major part of our work for the past several years,” said Caroline Vance, Project Director. Since 2008, California Forward has supported proposals intended to empower voters and encourage candidates to represent everyone in their districts. “

We will continue to explore how to increase voter participation among all voting groups in California. Let us know how you feel we can increase turnout.


Ed Coghlan

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