There are specific issues that affect day-to-day life in Hispanic communities. Men and women have their own priorities when voting.
Although Latino communities in Florida share the same concerns, the issues that bring men and women to the polls are different. Families, single people, and single parents have other factors that affect their decision on Election Day.
Yanidsi Vélez, Florida and Southeast director of Hispanic Federation, a non-profit initiative that focuses on voter registration, told The Americano that she has seen a genuine interest among Latino communities in voting in the upcoming elections.
“People are still trying to learn the process of how to register online,” the advocate said. Vélez pointed out that people are more familiar with registering in person at the offices of the Supervisor of Elections, but in the midst of the pandemic, they are learning how to update their voter registration and information online.
Men and women, the advocate said, have specific priorities when they make their voting decisions. The economy, for example, is the main issue that interests women and men equally, but from different perspectives.
For men, Vélez said, the most important issue related to the economy is finding a well-paying job.
“They are interested in getting jobs that pay well and offer benefits,” she said. Many jobs are available, but ideally a person should not have to work two or three jobs to support themselves.”
According to Vélez, women worry about the economy from the standpoint of providing stability for their families.
“They look out for the safety of their families—having a secure roof over their heads,” the director said. “We have seen many single mothers who aren’t able to buy a house. Houses are very expensive.”
An important issue among men is affordable housing. Vélez said Orlando and Kissimmee are no longer affordable options for many, especially for families who migrated to Florida from Puerto Rico after Hurricane María.
“People are moving to other counties like Polk, Hillsborough, and Manatee to be able to afford buying a house,” Vélez explained. “Homes there are more affordable, but there is a fundamental problem with the lack of nearby public transportation. All these elements complicate the life of a regular family.”
Vélez added that health care is one of the main issues that interest women. “They worry about having health insurance coverage for their families and themselves, and often don’t have any,” she said.
“In Florida, the vast majority of children are covered either by the Medicaid Children’s Health Insurance Program or KidCare and other government programs, or through an employer that provides healthcare benefits,” Vélez said. “Middle-aged women are specifically lacking in coverage, and it is very expensive to pay for health insurance.”
Vélez mentioned that because of their interest in health, women have also been more vocal about schools reopening during the pandemic. The advocate said a group of mothers and teacher associations have voiced their concerns at county and state levels.
“It’s not only about sending children back to school, but about teachers having the adequate resources to protect them,” Vélez said. “Women have been part of the battle between virtual and in-person classes.”
The director noticed more women have voted in recent years and run for positions that affect government decisions.
“This is a reflection of the fact that women are undoubtedly concerned and interested in achieving changes to help their communities,” Vélez said.