The surge in Latino voters in North Carolina could make a big impact in this swing state come the November election.
The assumption that Latinos only live in California, Texas, and Florida isn’t entirely correct. Yes, the majority live in those states, but the growing Latino population is expanding in the East and, more recently, in the South. As the Latino population continues to grow — from more than 35 million in 2000 to over 60 million today — Latino voter registration is also expanding.
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A PBS report shows that since the 2016 election, the number of Latino voters in North Carolina has grown by 25%. During the 2016 presidential election, 164,000 Latinos registered to vote. Today, at least 219,000 Latinos have registered. These figures are critical as North Carolina will be a swing state in the upcoming election.
The Pew Research Center reports that a record 32 million Latinos are projected to be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. North Carolina accounts for 4.4.% of all Latino voters in the country, and recent registration figures show that Latinos in North Carolina continue to register as the 2020 presidential election nears.
Last month, Voto Latino, the nation’s premier Latinx voter registration organization, reported that more Latinos have registered in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. More specifically, the organization has registered 128,322 Latino voters in Texas, 10,265 in Georgia, and 13,219 registrations in North Carolina. Both Georgia and North Carolina are considered key battleground states in November. That’s a +2,750% increase, or an estimated 200 Latino voter registrations a day.
Is Latino Voter Registration Increasing Only Because the Population Is? Not exactly.
Voter Participation Center‘s CEO Tom Lopach said in an interview with The Americano that Latinos’ increase in voter participation could be attributed to more Latino outreach.
“I think the broad civic community engagement is working harder to reach Latino voters,” Lopach said. “I think there are more people working on it. I also think there’s an increase in media attention to voting this cycle, and voter registration and voting by mail. Those things altogether increase interest in voting.”
He added that more Latino voter outreach needs to be done to see more Latinos at voting booths.
A recent study by the Voter Participation Center shows Latinos, especially younger Latinos, are less motivated to vote in 2020. Furthermore, 59% of Latinos said they definitely plan to vote, and 46% of Latinos under the age of 30 said they intend to vote as well.
“We can always do more, specifically with the rising American electorate and underrepresented communities,” Lopach said. “We have been testing bilingual readers and figuring out what sort of packages are people more receptive to.”
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Lopach added that the Voter Participation Center is doing more research on how to deliver bilingual information to Latino voters, including mail and online.
However, a recent study that tested bilingual Latinos in New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina shows that Latinos respond better to English-language mailers than bilingual ones.
“Half the recipients got only a letter in English; the other half received a letter that had, below the English, a Spanish translation in italics,” the authors of the study stated in The Washington Post. “After each election, we checked administrative records from state election officials to confirm whether each individual on our lists had voted.”
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The figures from the study in North Carolina show that in the 2016 election, “of those who got no letter, 48.7% voted; of those who got the bilingual letters, 49.4%; and those who got the English language letters, 49.9%. In this case, while the English letters increased turnout in a statistically significant way, that wasn’t true for the bilingual letters.”
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Whether election information is being sent in English or Spanish, it’s evident that some information is better than none. But with the election happening during a pandemic, it will be interesting to see if Latinos come out to vote. Gauging by the positive turnout during the primary election in Georgia, it looks to be very promising.