Arturo Vargas speaks at the NALEO 28th annual confernce (photo courtesty of NALEO on Flickr)
This piece was originally published on the NALEO website.
Latinos are the fastest-growing and second largest population group in the United States. According to projections from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, more than 12.2 million Latino voters are expected to cast ballots on Election Day, an increase of 26 percent from 2008.
The Latino voter will again be a decisive force in the White House race, in addition to statewide and local elections across the nation. Latinos are predicted to be the deciding factor this November in nine key states, which carry 101 Electoral College votes of the 270 needed for either President Obama or Governor Romney to win this year.
Despite the ability of the Latino voter to shape America’s political landscape more than 10 million Latinos are expected not to vote this November.
Imagine the electoral potential if all 23.5 million Latino citizens of voting-age were not only registered, but voted. Imagine if all Americans of voting-age were not only registered, but voted.
Campaigns and candidates are battling for support and for voters to rally behind their ideas and their leadership. Voting does not just send a candidate to Washington D.C., the state legislature or city hall; it speaks to the issues most pressing in a voter’s life such as the economy, education, and healthcare.
We can bring change to our communities, but we need to vote. In order to secure funding for schools, to create new jobs and safer streets we must cast our ballot in every election including the next one on November 6.
Ensuring today’s voter is informed, empowered, and inspired to own this year’s election means continuing to eliminate the barriers that prevent participation. Now more than ever, the need to register to vote is high.
Registering to vote hass never been easier. NALEO Educational Fund, in collaboration with other national Latino organizations and Spanish-language media, coordinates the historic non-partisan Latino ya es hora (“It’s Time”) civic participation campaign, which helps voters navigate the registration process.
Individuals interested in registering to vote can call ya es hora’s national bilingual hotline, 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA, which is operational year-round to help voters with electoral information. While the Post Office and libraries provide voter registration forms, citizens can also register to vote easily online at www.YaEsHora.info. It takes less than 5 minutes to complete, and once complete, must be printed, stamped, and mailed. In addition, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will offer Californians the ability to register to vote online without needing to print the form by visiting www.dmv.ca.gov.
With less than three months until Election Day, it is critical people register to vote ahead of the registration deadline. The registration deadline in California is October 22, however it is never too early to register to vote or to encourage others to do the same. Registering to vote is the first step towards bettering communities and country. The second is making an informed vote on November 6 that speaks on what matters most to you. The next is continued engagement. Only through active participation, year after year, will we continue strengthening our democracy and our country.
Make your vote count on November 6. Register to vote!
Arturo Vargas is the Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. The organization is the nation’s leading non-partisan, non-profit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. He served on the Census Advisory Committee from 2000-2011, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.