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Time to Vote

Por Mariel Fiori
October 2023
In a few days, we will be presenting a panel on Latinos in local politics (October 12th, 6 pm at MPR, Campus Center, Bard College - we hope to see you there!). As the elections are also approaching, I am focusing this month on the civic commitment we must fulfill if we truly want to be heard.

A little history first: only ten years after the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibited discriminatory practices in voting rights for African Americans in the United States, an amendment, Article 4, was passed in 1975, which extended protection to other minority groups, such as Spanish speakers. The 1975 amendment was an important step in allowing Latinos to build electoral and political power. Thanks to that law, the government extended voting rights protection to Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Latino, Asian, and Native American voters. For example, for the first time, election ballots had to be printed in both English and Spanish, a measure that increased Latino participation in elections. States must provide language assistance if more than 5% of voting-age individuals, or over 10,000 citizens do not speak English proficiently.

Since then, more and more Latinos have gone to the polls, but always in smaller proportions compared to the rest of the population. In 2022, while one in ten people who cast a vote was Latino, only 38% of eligible Hispanics turned out to vote. In comparison, 54% of the non-Hispanic population did vote in the last elections. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) expressed at that time that "Latinos participated in record numbers and played a decisive role in the election outcome, with more than 11.8 million Latinos voting" and that we need to continue investing in mobilizing Latino voters to be "full participants in our nation's democracy."

According to the Brookings Institution, Latinos will be the largest minority in the country by 2045 and a decisive population in future elections, if we become engaged and vote, I would add. The Pew Hispanic Center explains that it's the newborns, not immigrants, who have driven recent Hispanic growth in the United States. During the 2010s, an average of one million Hispanic babies were born each year. At the same time, around 350,000 Hispanic immigrants arrived annually, a much lower number than in the previous two decades. That's why four out of every five Latinos are U.S. citizens, and each year, approximately one million young Hispanic Americans turn 18 and become eligible to vote.

AACT, an organization that promotes voting, says that "increasing the number of voters in every election means better representation, more economic assistance for our communities, and a better quality of life. Politicians only pay attention to two things, money and votes. If we work together as a community and increase our votes, our State and National Legislators will listen to our needs. Issues like education, healthcare, immigration, infrastructure, the economy, veterans, and the environment, are affected by our vote."

I can't tell you who to vote for, but I do urge you to please inform yourself about your candidates and go out to vote on Tuesday, November 7th. The non-partisan website from the League of Women Voters can be a good source to find out what's on the ballot, while your county or state's board of elections website,, is a good place to register to vote, find your polling place, or change your address. In New York, we also have early voting from October 28th to November 5th, which makes it more convenient to exercise our rights. Your vote counts much more than you might imagine.

Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor

*Translated from Spanish by Karen Ruiz León.

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