WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Sen. Tom Udall opened a panel discussion Thursday on the importance of the Latino electorate in the 2016 election, and he urged participants to get out and voice their values at the ballot box in November.
Speaking with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at the Senate Democratic Latino Summit panel discussion on Latino civic engagement, Udall reminded participants that the winner of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections will shape key public policy issues important to the Latino community — such as immigration reform, voting rights and economic opportunity. Yet historically, less than half of eligible Latino voters have opted to go to the polls. It’s crucial for Latinos voice their opinions at the ballot box, he said, noting that New Mexico is 48 percent Hispanic.
“There is a lot at stake, from immigration reform to voting rights to pay equity, workforce diversity and access to education,” Udall said.
Udall quoted from Pew Research Center report titled “Inside the 2012 Latino Electorate,” which states that “while 11.2 million Latinos voted in 2012, an even greater number — 12.1 million — chose not to vote even though they were eligible to do so.” And while 66.6 percent of eligible African Americans and 64.1 percent of whites voted, only 48 percent of eligible Hispanic voters turned out to vote.
“Today’s summit is titled ‘The Rise of the Latino Electorate.’ It indicates the power the Latino community has to shape our elections, especially in swing states,” Udall said. “The point I want to make to you today is that much of the ‘rise’ has not yet been realized. And that’s why this conversation is so important.”
The summit was organized by Senate Democrats along with members of the Obama administration ― Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez — and several national organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Voto Latino, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Immigration Law Center, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. Participants discussed issues important to the Latino community across country, such as immigration, voting rights, college affordability, pay equity, workforce diversity, and economic opportunity.
A recording of the summit can be watched here.