Are 24 Million Latinos Eligible to Vote?… or Just Eligible to Register?

Dr. Juan Andrade Jr.

Chicago, IL [CapitalWirePR] – The Pew Center just came out with one of those reports that inadvertently mislead many writers, columnists, commentators, campaign consultants, and many others who make a living by purporting to know the truth about anything.  This recent report claims that nearly 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote.  And why are they eligible to vote?  According to Pew, they are eligible to vote simply because they are 18 years of age, or will be before or on Election Day, and they are citizens of theUnited States.  That only makes one eligible to register, but not in itself does it make one eligible to vote.  What’s the difference?  The difference is that being a citizen of voting age makes one eligible to “register.” Being a citizen of voting age AND registered is what makes a person “eligible to vote.”  And, as we say back home, “That’s a horse of a different color.”

What’s worse is that when we get 10-11 million Latinos out to vote out of a possible 13-14 million, that’s a good 70+% turnout, which would be impressive but certainly not unprecedented.  But if we turn out 10-11 million votes out of 24 million, that would be pathetic!  So, the way this scenario is being set up, Latinos are going to look bad no matter how many vote or who wins.  What’s going to be reported is that only 40+% bothered to vote when so much was at stake.

So how many Latinos are registered to vote?  We don’t know.  Nobody knows for sure, and there is no certifiable way for anyone to know.  What we do know is that in 2008 approximately 11, 608,000 Latinos were registered to vote.  Of that number an estimated 9,745,000 turned out to vote.  We also know that in 2010 the number of Latinos registered to vote dropped uncharacteristically to 10,982,000.  That’s a decline of roughly 700,000 registered voters!

That decline however did not deter some opportunists from coming out with an early prediction that 12.2 million Latinos would turn out to vote in the November 6 election.  At best, this prediction was ludicrous and, at worst, self serving.   Why?  It was ludicrous because, first of all, we have to re-register 700,000 voters just to get back to where we were in 2008.  And, given the 700,000 vote deficit, there was no basis on which to expect our turnout to increase by 2.5 million over 2008.  Then, assuming we were successful in getting our registration number back up to the ’08 level, we would have to add about three (3) million new voters to the rolls, increasing the number of Latinos registered to vote to roughly 14.5-15 million!  To do less would necessitate a Latino voter turnout in the 90% range!  This prediction was simply laughable, albeit painful.

For now, let’s not let anyone raise false expectations, or try to define our political behavior or capability.  Let’s just go into the election with as many registered Latinos as we can, for our own sake.  After all, at the end of the day what really matters is for the Latino community to win, and we win by turning out to vote.


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