This year, if Latinos register to vote, they could have the power to swing the general election in November.
The Secretary of State estimates that there are a total of 23.7 million eligible voters in California, of which only 17.1 million are registered.
According to a report published earlier in the week by the Center for American Progress (CAP), of the 6.6 million potential voters in California, 4.4 million are Hispanic. Of this group, more than 2 million are unregistered age-eligible citizens. The other almost 2.3 million Latinos are permanent residents qualified to naturalize in time to vote in November.
Although not all 58 counties have finished counting the vote-by-mail ballots collected during last week’s historic top-two open primary, elections officials estimate that a mere 5 million people (31 percent of registered voters) showed up to cast their ballots. That’s just slightly more than the number of potential Latino voters CAP asserts currently live in California.
Analysts believe that the abysmal voter turnout in this year’s primary election is no indication of what will happen in November. In fact, they predict voter participation will increase greatly due to the presidential race (a common occurrence) as well as several hotly contested statewide ballot measures. But will participation be as high as in the last presidential election?
The percentage of potential voters and registered voters in California hasn’t varied much over the last four years. 13.7 million Californians, 80 percent of registered voters, showed up at the polls in 2008. If these 4.4 million potential Latino voters register to vote, they could decide which statewide initiatives pass and who to send to Sacramento and D.C.
The hard work begins now— political parties and organizations will need to register and get this untapped electorate out to the polls. Will the sleeping Latino giant finally awaken in time for the November election?