In 2016, there were approximately 27.3 million eligible Latino voters. However, less than half exercised their right to vote in the 2016 Presidential election.
Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Executive Director of the Latinos and Society Program at the Aspen Institute discusses the issues and efforts to boost Latino civic participation. Click here for part 1 of Latinos and Civic Participation.
Interview recorded Sept 6, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham. Part 2 of 2.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: Any other recommendations that the thought leaders came up with that they thought that should be implemented sooner rather than later?
Golden-Vazquez: Oh, yeah. So one was a pathway to naturalization. There are many Latinos that are eligible — would be eligible to vote if they became citizens. But either because of language, fears about taking the test or the cost of the test, they don´t take it. So they proposed a bipartisan national initiative to encourage naturalization — not just for Latinos, but for everyone — to teach English and encourage people on a path to naturalization. So that was one of the ways. Another way, which is, I think, maybe one of the most important ways is to make it easier to vote. You know, have people automatically registered when they apply for a driver´s license.
Traynham: You know, Abigail, there´s something about that because a lot of folks have said to me anecdotally, look, I love to vote, but I actually work a job from midnight until 7:00 in the morning, I have three kids, I´m not married. Or I don´t have an hour and a half or two hours to stand in line in the middle of the day. So making it easier for people to vote, perhaps maybe could rise the numbers a bit.
Golden-Vazquez: Why can´t we use mobile phones to vote? We could put the protections in place to make sure that there was no fraud, but let´s make it easy for people. We want people to participate in our democracy to make it as vibrant as possible. And by the way, a lot of these things that we´re recommending for Latinos would benefit all Americans.
Traynham: Abigail, let´s talk about some good news for a few moments there because I want to end this interview, which has been fascinating, by the way, on some positive, optimistic news.
Golden-Vazquez: Yes, so we´ve talked about Latinos participating less than they could and should, and there´s work to be done there. But Latinos share the same values as most Americans. They´re hard-working. They believe in a pathway to the American dream that involves education and hard work. They´re starting businesses at three to four times the rate of the rest of the population, which creates jobs for everyone and contributes to the economy. So, we just need to continue to invest in this community to the benefit of all Americans.
Traynham: Abigail Vazquez, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Golden-Vazquez: Thank you for having me, Robert, it was fun.
Traynham: Indeed. And thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation,visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I’m Robert Traynham.