No racial or ethnic group in the United States has a better reason to participate in the November 3rd elections than the Latino community.
There isn’t another group that has been so disproportionately devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic than Latinos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30% of new infections where ethnic origin is known, correspond to Latinos, despite the fact that we are 18% of the population. A major reason is that we do the riskiest but most essential jobs.
The Latino community also has a lower proportion of access to health than any other group; a phenomenon that has had more serious implications during the pandemic. Millions of Latino adults and children benefited from Obamacare, but they have less access than non-Latino whites, Asians, and African Americans. Since before the pandemic, from 2017 to 2018, the health coverage rate had fallen 1.7% among Latinos, but not among the other groups.
As if that weren’t enough, the Latino unemployment rate is twice as high as before the pandemic. During April it reached a historical high of 18.9% and although it fell to 10.5% in August, it is more difficult for Latinos to access or request unemployment benefits. Moreover, there is an economic slowdown in sectors that employ high proportions of Latinos, such as the hospitality industry.
It’s a perfect storm compounded by discrimination, racial injustices, or by policies like the Public Charge Rule, which has created fear among the most vulnerable Latinos who are to receive benefits when they need them the most. It’s also as a result of the unjustifiable decision of Congress to marginalize many migrants, including those with undocumented spouses, from the benefits of financial rescue packages.
The big question is whether these reasons are enough to motivate Latino voters to participate in the 2020 elections.
Perhaps the best Latino advocacy organization with experience answering that question is UnidosUS. In a span of 10 years, it has managed to register more than 700,000 eligible voters and, because it knows how much is at stake, it launched one of its ambitious voter mobilization campaigns called “Adelante 2020” this year.
Clarissa Martínez, Deputy Vice President of UnidosUS, told me that if the trends continue, up to 15 million Latinos could participate in the 2020 process, a record number. She also said that there isn’t a reason for that number not to rise to 30 million if we consider that at this moment there are 32 million Latinos eligible to vote.
“In our community there is some uncertainty or doubt, or maybe it’s because we’re not very set on one candidate or another. It doesn’t matter… One of the strongest motivations to vote is to bring our community’s voice and support to the polls… and we need it so much. The reason is family, community, and country, ” said Clarissa.
We have plenty of reasons to vote or, if we are not eligible, to encourage family, friends and colleagues to do so. First, we have to go through the requirement of registering to vote and there is little time left. In some states, the deadline expires one month before November 3, so do it now through adeltnateunidos.com and participate. Other groups are doing the same.
Getting involved has never been easier – by mail, early voting, or on Election Day.
If you still have doubts, let yourself be convinced by those three simple but powerful reasons: family, community, and country.