Choosing NOT to Vote

Latino voters are more enthusiastic to participate in the November 2nd election than they were eight weeks ago. Almost 60 percent of Latino voters say now, they are “very enthusiastic” about voting, up from 41 percent on Sept.6, according the latest Latino Decisions poll released Monday. There’s also an increased support among Latinos for the Democratic Party, in part, to the anti-immigrant tone of Republican campaigns.

So, what’s keeping the rest of the Latinos eligible to vote away from the polls today?

27 year old Daniella Hernández, a resident of North Park in San Diego, California, couldn’t mention to me one proposal on Today’s ballot or one issue of the political platform of the gubernatorial candidates.

“I know it’s my responsibility to vote, but I didn’t have time to research the proposals or read about the candidates, “ says Hernández, while buying a cup of coffee this morning before heading to her first shift of the day at one of her two jobs in retail.

According to Chicano studies professor from San Diego State University Isidro Ortiz, some Latinos are not voting because they don't see any pressing issues that require exerting the time and energy to vote.

“Some believe that given the increasing influence of corporations in the voting process and society, their vote won't matter; the decisions affecting the quality and conditions of their lives will be made outside of the political process; so it doesn't matter who gets elected,” says Ortiz.

The Latino vote is key to winning some very important mid-term races in states like California and Arizona which will be choosing a new Governor. In the Senate, the Republicans are targeting 12 Democratic seats that are currently in jeopardy, three are in states where Hispanics will be a dominant factor: California, Nevada and Colorado.

But for, 19 year old Leslie Muñoz from San Diego, Election Day is like any other day. The only thing on her mind is for her family to be reunited.

“I’m not going to vote, it doesn’t matter who wins they don’t do anything to help us.” In 2007, U.S. immigration authorities deported her parents to México. Today, Muñoz takes care of her 3 younger siblings.

Others, like Coronado resident, Gina Gamboa are choosing not to vote because they are turned off by the negativity of the campaigns.“ It’s like a fight ring,” says Gamboa.

California gubernatorial candidate, Republican Meg Whitman, who says, "I cannot win this election without the Latino vote,” spent millions of dollars reaching out to the Hispanic voter. Her opponent, Democratic candidate Jerry Brown didn’t spend as much money, but has promised this electorate to “Make California an inclusionary state.”

Unfortunately for Brown, these words aren’t enough to inspire voters like 24 year old David Aragon. “I heard their speeches and nothing caught my attention. I voted in 2008 and nothing has really changed,” says, the San Diego State college student.

Disillusioned with the electoral process is one of the main reasons as why Latinos are choosing not to vote Today.

“They voted for Obama and other Democrats with the hope and expectation that their vote would make a difference , especially in terms of issues like immigration,” says Ortiz. Adding “for them el voto has not turned out to be much of a voz.”

Latinos make up this country's biggest and fastest growing minority, numbering more than 48 million. Some 19 million are eligible to vote. While California is already a majority-minority population state, it’s clearly on a path to become a majority-minority electorate according to Latino Decisions researched.

America's Election HQ Midterm 2010 Map

Mapping the Latino Vote 2010

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