'I voted for all those who can’t vote': Latinx youth first-timers are turning out - Front Page Live

‘I voted for all those who can’t vote’: Latinx youth first-timers are turning out

  • 10/23/2020 2:40 pm ET Maria Amaya
Side by side photos of voting stickers

Screenshot / Twitter

In each election, politicians aim to win “el voto Latino” or the Latinx vote, as this group has been one of the fastest-growing non-white voting blocs in the US. Not as much attention has been paid to young first-time voters, however. This year both the under 25 years of age and the Latinx vote are in the crosshairs of campaigns.

Politicians in past years have often missed the mark and not fully activated the “Latino vote”. They either ignore or do not fully understand how diverse the Latinx community is in culture and in political views.

This year is different. There is a significant increase in Hispanic citizens getting ready to vote in 2020 versus 2016. According to non-profit organization Voto Latino there has been a recent 2,750% spike in Latinx voter registrations since the police killing of George Floyd. Many of these are younger voters.

The message that the stakes are high seems to be resonating. Younger Latinx generations have found voting to be relatively easy and they believe in its value to them as citizens.

We spoke with two young first-time Latino voters, Angela and Brandon, to hear what they have to say.

Voting campaigns are working

cartoon depiction of a hand holding a card that says vote

Vote Like A Madre

The efforts of voting campaigns and community organizers have yielded fruitful results in increasing voter engagement.

For UCLA student, Angela Hernandez, efforts to increase voter registration among the student population of her high school made voting an easier process:

I attended Santa Monica High School. They’re big on higher education and voting. They have resources that help us get to those places. I didn’t find registering for voting difficult because I pre-registered in high school — my senior year — during one of my classes. That made it super easy for me.

Hernandez may not be thrilled with all the names on her ballot, but she expresses excitement about exercising her responsibility to vote.

“I’ve been super excited to vote for a long time,” she said. However, her dissatisfaction with the available candidates did put a damper on things. “My excitement was gone. But seeing the chaos and injustice in this world, I knew I had to vote. My first time voting was not as exciting as I thought it would be, but I know it was an important one,” she explained.

The process of voting was something Hernandez was very happy with. “I personally found it really easy to do. It was like dropping off a letter at the mailbox.”

This first-time voter is hoping to see real change, both politically and socially. “The people who are in office affect these policies, these social issues. That’s why it’s so important to do your research.” Hernandez didn’t just look at those occupying the top spots either. “I researched every person on that ballot, every proposition, and made sure that these people were the closest to the change I want to see.”

Hernandez also stressed that voting is a privilege, one that not everyone living in the U.S. has. “My parents can’t vote, so it’s important for me to vote for them. I vote for all those who can’t vote,” emphasized the young voter.

Young Latino voters are engaging with democracy

A hand placing a ballot in a box

Canva

Brandon Muñoz, an 18-year-old Cal Poly SLO student in California and a first-time voter, “This is my first year that I will be able to exercise my right to vote, and I got to say it was really easy for me to register. I chose to vote through mail since it’s more convenient.”

Although the voting process itself was fairly simple, Muñoz believes the propositions on the ballot should be easier to understand.

The challenging part of this whole process has been understanding the propositions. I felt like the informational packet that was sent can be a bit misleading and can be hard to understand. So you really have to take the time to do your own research to really know what it is you are voting for.

Brandon elaborates that “as a first-time voter this can be overwhelming for some”. He worries that some people may feel discouraged or, even worse, they may “just vote randomly.” He stresses that “the propositions are as important as voting for the presidential candidates.”

Many young Latinos have been inspired to go out and vote because a lot of the current social issues affecting their communities and their futures.  “Another thing that motivated me was the things happening in our country, like the many social injustices. If I vote it is a chance for me to stand up for major issues I care about. If I don’t vote I’m just giving up my voice and becoming part of the problem,” Muñoz explains.

In the words of this civically-minded first-time voter: “If we all come together, especially young people, I’m sure we can see big changes. We are the future.”

Add your own voice

Woman speaking into a megaphone

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Angela and Brandon believe that while voting may not immediately solve all the problems affecting Latinx populations in the US, it is a key place to start.

Do you have a voting plan?  On what date does your state open up early voting?

The opportunity to swear in candidates who represent them and their families is motivating these young adults.  They believe that representation in government will provide them with a better chance at an economically stable life, the ability to breathe fresh air, and to live in a world filled with natural beauty.

Along with most young voters, they believe the government needs to take a stand for the environment. This means voting for politicians with bold climate plans and holding them to their word.

Check your candidate’s climate plan:

  • It should acknowledge climate change is real and man-made. We need leaders who trust science and act on it.
  • It should hold big polluters accountable.
  • It should protect our vulnerable communities.

Please follow in the footsteps of the younger generations and vote! Visit the #VoteLikeAMadre campaign, make a pinky promise, and make your Madre vote count!

Disclaimer: This sponsored article was produced and distributed in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the Vote Like a Madre campaign.

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