All eligible voters should always vote

By Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

Elections are always important because they determine which candidates will become lawmakers, who will be Governor or President, and which propositions (laws approved by the voters) will become laws. Elections are especially important for Latinos. While all laws generally apply to Latinos, some laws especially target Latinos even though they officially refer to “immigrants” or “illegal immigrants”. Elections produced the members of the city councils in Escondido, California, Hazleton, Pennsylvania and Farmers Branch, Texas where anti-immigrant laws were passed. An election produced SB 1070; the infamous voter approved anti-immigrant law in Arizona that was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Courts. In California, voters elected Democrat Governor, Jerry Brown replacing Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; Governor Brown signed the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses; the Republican Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed three times laws passed by our lawmakers to allow undocumented immigrants to earn drivers’ licenses. Elections produced the lawmakers in New Mexico and several other states that enacted laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.

Latinos in California can determine the results in our elections. This can only occur if we vote. Even though many Latinos are not eligible to vote because they are not yet U. S. citizens or because they are still too young, the number of qualified Latino voters can determine election results. California has more Latinos than any other state. President Barak Obama could not have been elected without Latino voters. He received 67% of Latino votes and only 43% of non-Latino white votes. California is home to 20% of all ethnic and national minorities in the United States. The U. S. Census reports that the population of California is almost 39.5 million people in 2017. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) in a report dated July 2014 revealed that more than 14 million (38%) are Latinos as of September 2012 and that about 37% of likely Latino voters were immigrants. The PPIC also reported that 59% of California Latinos were registered Democrats, 18% were Republican, 17% were Independents and 5% were “other”. Most experts agree California will have a Latino majority by 2020. This means that each year Latinos will have an even greater impact on election results IF WE VOTE!

The PPIC also determined that only 17% of “Likely voters” in California were Latinos. “Likely voters” are registered voters with a history of having an interest in politics and public issues, who have a positive history of voting and intend to vote. Unfortunately, Latinos have a history of being under-represented in elections. This means that a smaller percentage of eligible Latino voters actually vote compared to other ethnic and racial groups. The report also indicated that only 17% of Latino adults were likely to vote compared to 11% of Asians, 6% of African Americans, and 62% of white Americans.

No one that is eligible to vote should fail to vote because elections produce important consequences. For Latinos, the quality of life can be drastically changed. Immigration reform will be decided by the Congressional Representatives and Senators that will be elected. State law makers will determine minimum wage increases, and whether injured people get increased compensation for their injuries among other important rights. LET’S VOTE!