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Fronteras Extra: 2018 Latino Voter Turnout 'Cuando vota Latina, vota una familia'

Lydia Camarillo, president of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project

Lydia Camarillo, president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, plays a key role in developing SVREP’s nonpartisan voter mobilization efforts.  

Since its founding in 1974, the organization has grown into the largest and oldest nonpartisan Latino voter participation organization in the country. It continues to make an impact on Latino turnout 45 years later.

Camarillo said recently-released census numbers show that 11.7 million Latinos voted in 2018. That compares with 6.8 million that voted in 2014.

Camarillo said even SVREP underestimated how many Latinos would turn out at the polls. “Southwest Voter was one of the organizations that said, ‘We think about 9 million people will vote in the 2018 general elections,’ " Camarillo said. “Well, we were wrong, but we were [the organization that predicted] the highest number.”

Camarillo said turnout in future elections can be affected by obstacles that may keep citizens from registering to vote, including voter ID restrictions and “requiring people to be deputized. There's only training once a month.”

Credit U.S. Air Force photo/Dianne Moffett
New U.S. citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance Nov. 20, 2012, at a U.S. naturalization and citizenship ceremony at Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium in San Antonio.

Camarillo said Latinas who vote can influence other voters in their family. “Cuando vota Latina, vota una familia (when a Latina votes, the whole family votes),” Camarillo said. “They outpaced their counterparts — their male counterparts — by six percentage points. We know that Latinas are registered to vote by two percentage points more in every cycle and about 2% more vote.”  

Naturalized U.S. citizens also outpace their native-born counterparts at the polls. “Forty-four percent of those (who) are naturalized voted, compared to 39% that are native born. Now, to put that in perspective, we need to remember that clearly there's more native born in terms of raw numbers, but it still puts us to shame if we're not doing what we need to do.”

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren