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Waking the sleeping giant: Texas group aims to increase voter turnout in Latino community

Only 15% of the millions of Latinos living in Texas voted in 2016, a population that totals an estimated 13 million.
Credit: WFAA
"When I talk to the girls, I let them know in other countries women are not allowed to vote," said Carmen Ayala.

DALLAS — The Latino community in Texas has long been described as a sleeping giant, an electorate with the potential to swing our politics and policies. Based on U.S. Census data, that giant is in a deep sleep.

But a Texas group – Jolt Initiative – is trying to forge a new tradition with Latino voters, where coming of age automatically means voting. And they’re targeting 15-year-old girls' quinceañeras to make it happen. 

The effort to engage Latino voters is the topic of the latest episode of our political podcast, Y’all-itics. Each week we’ll dive a little deeper into one topic that impacts Texans.

RELATED: Why a quinceañera is a perfect place to register new Texas voters

“We Are Texas” is a study undertaken by Jolt Initiative to better understand young Latinos and what drives them. They say the numbers they uncovered are primary drivers behind their push to register young Latino voters.

Texas Health and Human Services projects the Latino population will be nearly 13 million in 2020. The Jolt Initiative found only 15% of them voted in 2016, while 67% of the population is over 18 and eligible to vote. 

It is that gap they are desperate to close.

In terms of political party identification, Jolt found that 33% of Texas Latinos identify as Democrat, 13% Republican, 16% Independent, 34% aren’t sure and 5% identify with other parties. That 34% is the group that interests political campaigns.

And Jolt Initiative found that the top issue Latinos care about is healthcare for all, followed by a path to citizenship, racial and ethnic equality, more jobs and economic prosperity and raising the minimum wage.

For more on this study:  https://www.joltinitiative.org/research/

Learn more about Y’all-itics: www.wfaa.com/yallitics

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