In a little longer than it takes to digest this information, at least one Latino will be old enough to vote in the United States.
As the fastest growing ethnic community in the country today, Hispanics are also the least involved in the political debate, and the least likely to go out and vote.
According to estimates by the Latin Post in 2014, “approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino turns 18, and 70 percent of them automatically have the right to vote because they were born in the U.S.”
That mass of new voters solidified significantly in states like Nevada and California during the early stages of the Democratic Primary, where their participation gave a brief lead to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the party’s nomination.
And the reasons are obvious.
“Latino millennials are a part of one of the most racially diverse and economically damaged eras in modern times,” the media explains. “Burdened with loan debt, poverty and unemployment, many are disenchanted with politics, and those who do decide to vote are increasingly less homogeneous.”
That is why new media initiatives such as Public Radio International (PRI) have focused their efforts on this community, on what moves them, and on unraveling the complex socio-cultural fabric behind it.
Their project “Every 30 Seconds” collects information on the most pressing issues of the Hispanic community, and moves them away from the misconception that Latinos are a monolithic demography. As the platform describes it, it is a “collaborative public media-reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.”
One of the initiative’s articles, for example, focuses on how for the Afro-Latino community the key issue in the 2020 election is education.
Citing the story of Brayan Guevara, a 19-year-old sophomore at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, North Carolina, who will vote in a U.S. presidential election for the first time in November, the media highlights how the fact that Guevara’s profile does not strictly fit what the political system perceives as “Latino” affects his political decisions.
“Back in the Bronx there were a lot of people like me, Afro Latinos. A lot of brown-skinned Hispanics,” he said. “But when I moved down to Greensboro, I didn’t see literally anyone like me. It wasn’t until I got to college that I saw people of Afro Latino descent.”
For Guevara, since then, “identity means everything.”
“It wasn’t until my junior year in high school when I realized I should be adding the ‘Afro’ part to my Latino,” he said. “When I was a kid, I was — you know, I’m ignorant. I really don’t know that much. So, um, yeah, I’m Latino, I should be just like, you know, the other Hispanic kids in my class.”
“It wasn’t until later when I realized that there’s a lot more that goes into Afro Latinos,” he said.
Likewise, the platform has been following closely the transformation of the young Latino electorate in states like Arizona, where health is the primary issue, or even the reasons behind the pro-Republican Hispanic movement.
If every 30 minutes a Latino in the United States turns 18 and becomes an eligible voter, that means about 75,000 new potential voters per month, and about 900,000 per year, according to PRI. As of 2016, “some 3.6 million Latinos will have turned 18 in time to vote this November.”
“It matters. It underscores the point that no one who runs for president can afford to ignore this audience,” said Danny Friedman, managing director of Voto Latino, a Washington, DC-based nonpartisan civic engagement group targeting Latino youth.
However, and with the overwhelming results in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden during the last few days of the Primaries, it is likely that this important new majority will be seen without a candidate who really encourages them to go out and vote.
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