As the Latino population in the United States continues to increase dramatically, the need to have Latino serving organizations also increases. It is an opportunity to not only attract talent for the nonprofit sector itself, but to create programs that educate the Latino population on relevant issues. One such critical area is voting.
Latino voter numbers requires a powerful campaign, committed to ensuring that Latinos in America are educated on the importance of voting. One organization that does just that is Voto Latino. Its mission is to “empower Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino is dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices to develop leaders by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change.”
The 2012 presidential elections marked a significant shift for Latinos: a record 11.2 million Latinos voted. Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. But even with that record breaking presidential election, the Pew Research Center has found that Latinos’ voter turnout continues to lag significantly behind other groups. The 2012 voter turnout rate among blacks was 66.6% and among whites was 64.1%, both significantly higher than the turnout rate among Latinos.
For the last ten years, Voto Latino has engaged and developed the leadership skills of Latino Millennials. Actress Rosario Dawson founded the organization in 2004 and since then, it has registered nearly 250,000 voters. Maria Teresa Kumar, President of Voto Latino has integrated a digital strategy to engage the masses. Voto Latino pushed to get American Latinos to fill out the 2010 census via a bilingual iPhone app, has fine-tuned the concept of texting campaigns, and is reaching out through Twitter and Facebook.
Why should it matter that although there are approximately 15 million American Latino youth in the United States, only a fraction vote? It matters because Latinos are the fastest growing minority in the United States and will only become more important and politically powerful as the years progress. It is projected that by 2050, there will be 132 million Latinos in the United States and will represent 30% of the country’s population. It’s a powerful voice that will drive change in America. With organizations like Voto Latino at the helm of increasing Latino votes in the United States, the goal shines brighter every day.