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Activists seek to stir Latinos to go to polls

Maria Teresa Kumar

(Boston Herald) – Latino lawmakers, delegates and activists are working to boost voter participation this November among one of the nation’s fastest growing demographics.

“This isn’t just about this election, this is a referendum of America’s future,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, president of the nonpartisan civic organization Voto Latino.

The organization, she said yesterday, is making efforts to reach out to young voters through social media, mobile apps and other methods to boost registration and civic engagement among the nation’s 27 million voter-eligible Latinos.

She said that while the group’s efforts are nonpartisan, the top issues they are hearing about include pay equity, student loan debt and reproductive choice — all issues that largely favor Democrats. On the other hand, they have been turned off by the divisive political rhetoric of the presidential race.

“We hear of children coming home from schools crying to their parents, saying hey we’re told ‘Donald Trump is going to deport us,’ ” Kumar said. “This is from their classmates. These are American kids.”

But Latino voters are not homogeneous, and could help sway some battleground states toward either Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Trump. According to Pew Research Statistics, in the swing state of Nevada, where Latinos make up about 13 percent of the electorate, about three-fourths voted Democratic in the primary. By contrast in the battleground of Florida, where Latinos make up 18 percent of primary voters, more than half voted Republican.

Issues such as the Obama administration’s deportation raids have moved the needle, said David Damore, senior analyst for Latino Decisions and a University of Nevada professor. But not as much as Trump’s call to build a wall and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“It’s been racially divisive,” Damore said. “We are seeing not only strong support for Secretary Clinton, but also an increased enthusiasm” to vote.

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