Voice of the Latino Community: Exercise your most important privilege

Voice of the Latino Community

Coalition-of-Latino-LeadersBy Dr. Rudy Valdez
Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLL) member

Having a strong voice and access to decision-makers are powerful ways to influence outcomes. Some people use the ability to march, demonstrate, and participate locally, in Springfield, and in Washington, D.C., to help sway politicians. While these are common methods used to achieve desired objectives, the actions typically require a large amount of time and resources.

One simple method that can be more effective, but too often ignored, is to proactively address the issues by electing like-minded individuals to office. Unfortunately, the simple, but vastly important, right to vote is not consistently exercised. Many eligible voters choose not to vote and instead end up reactively trying to influence elected officials.

It is best to participate early in the decision-making process by casting your ballot for an individual who identifies with your beliefs and values. Not voting reduces the power we all have, thus making it difficult to influence policy that enables our society to prosper and grow.

Low voter turnout has fluctuated from a disappointing 59 percent range during presidential election years to a dismal 42 percent during mid-term elections. And Latinos, the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, lag other ethnic groups with the lowest voter turnout of about 31 percent.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of the approximately 800,000 Hispanics who turn 18 each year are U.S. born and eligible to vote. This number is projected to double the Latino electorate in the next 15 years. Ironically, Latino voters younger than 30, who have the ability to dramatically influence the political landscape, have been the least likely to vote. The voter turnout for Latinos younger than 30 has been approximately 18 percent.

It is time to get involved, learn the issues, and help shape the future by exercising the most important privilege we have as Americans: the right to vote. For more information, please visit the Latinos for Political Progress website, L4PP.weebly.com. Jaime Salgado is the L4PP chairman and the political committee leader for the Coalition of Latino Leaders.

This article was translated by Armando Tello. Armando works for SWITS, a regional translating service, and he also works as a freelance translator. He is from Guatemala, and speaks English, Spanish, German and is learning Italian. He had a small software service in Guatemala, and he is proud to say he is a “computer geek.” Armando may be contacted at the following email address: ckat609@yahoo.com.

From the Feb. 4-10, 2015, issue

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