MILWAUKEE — One of the fastest growing voting blocs in the country, the Latino community, could make a significant impact in this year’s election.
Pew Research Group say a record 32,000,000 Latino people are expected to vote nationwide. That number is up 17.2 percent from the 2016 General Election. So, this year, the Latino community feels it can make a big impact.
“It’s important for us to have our voices heard,” Janina Cavazos of Milwaukee said. “I’ve never voted before so this is the year pushing me towards that.”
“We want something better for the country, for the people, for the American people,” Victorio Isitoro of Milwaukee said. “We want something nice, good for everybody. We want to change something.”
It’s a group often referred to as the sleeping giant. In Wisconsin, Pew Research Center says 4.2 percent of eligible voters in the state are Latino. It may sound small, but that accounts for roughly 183,000 people. When the 2016 election was decided by less than one percent of the vote, or about 22,000 votes, this community feels they can have a tremendous impact.
“The power of this group, when it wakes up, will be a force to reckon with,” Maria Avila, Volunteer for the Latinx Voter Outreach Committee with the League of Women Voters said. “Once united, at least educated, they will be out to vote and it will be a force.”
The League of Women Voters is making a big push to activate Latino voters. In 2016, US Census data shows 47.6 percent of eligible Latino voters turned out at the polls. Avila says, this effort is to encourage those voters their vote matters.
They have donated masks on behalf of the Milwaukee Election Commission to the employees at El Rey Supermarket. The cashier’s masks say Votos Cuentan en el 414.
Translation; Votes count in the 414.
“We want to make sure residents in the City of Milwaukee know their votes count,” Jonatan Zuniga, Deputy Director for the City of Milwaukee Election Commission said. “We have different ways to make votes and make sure it’s secure and safe. Whether requesting an absentee ballot, early voting or voting on Election Day at their regular polling location, we want to make sure they know, it’s a safe and secure way to vote.”
If turnout increases, Avila says, if the Latino community can get behind one candidate, they can make waves.
“I think the Latino community will definitely help decide this election,” Avila said. “But that assumes every eligible voter registers to vote, becomes educated on the issues and comes out to vote. I think the energy is there.”
Pew Research shows 45 percent of the Latino community use alternative voting methods at higher rates than most. This means the group tends to vote by mail or votes early more often than their counterparts. Early voting in Wisconsin begins Tues. Oct. 20.