Young Latino Voters Prioritize Racial Equality When It Comes to Voting, New Poll Finds

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A new survey published on Thursday by BuzzFeed and Telemundo further demonstrated the complexity of the Latino vote.

While in the 2016 election, Hispanic youth participation in the polls was relatively low (around 40%,) in 2020, activism and priorities have shifted, especially after a two-fold increase in voter participation in the 2018 mid-term elections.

As the survey showed, one-third of young Latinos eligible to vote do not identify a single politician “who goes out of their way to support their community.

“Nobody” was the most repeated response when asked to name a political figure who speaks to the Hispanic community’s needs. The only names mentioned were AOC, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and, believe it or not, Donald Trump.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Sarah Audelo, executive director of the group Alliance for Youth Action, a national network of groups building political power among young people, to NBC News.

“We can’t have so many young Latinos disconnected from the process because they don’t feel part of it. And that is not on them, that is on us, the government, on schools for not educating us on how to be civically engaged and the politicians who are choosing to ignore them,” Audelo said.

The respondents, who totaled 1,323 registered voters, ages 18-34, responded that the social crisis around police violence and systemic racism had been the most crucial engine of stimulus in their decision to become involved in the country’s political choices.

“Young Latinos are speaking up, determined to influence the future direction of our country,” the report says. “In prior years, many young voters questioned whether their vote would make a difference, and they resisted politics, bu tour data shows 2020 to be different.”

Among the respondents, 82% said that the protests of the Black Lives Matter Movement are “motivating them to vote and advocate for their community.” Similarly, seven out of ten young Latinos have said that the coronavirus crisis will motivate them to vote in November.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hispanic families is no secret, with a hospitalization rate five times higher than that of white families. Most Latinos surveyed said the coronavirus had affected their health or finances, including nearly half (48%) who said they had suffered financially from job loss or wage cuts.

Similarly, this new generation seems more focused on asserting Latino identity and racial equality in the country.

Some 45% of respondents said that they were told to stop speaking Spanish in public in the last two years, and the same percentage were told to go back to their country.

“Young Hispanics rank racial and ethnic equality as the most critical issue of their generation,” the study continues, “as do the majority of young people of all backgrounds who embrace their diversity as a fundamental strength and source of pride.”