Over the last couple of decades, Georgia has slowly become a diverse state. This week, the Senate runoffs defined whether the Democrats would have control of the Senate or not. The results demonstrated what many hoped for: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock prevailed with the help of record-breaking Democratic turnout, especially among Black and Latino Georgians.
Before polls opened up, Latino voter turnout had already broken numbers from years prior. The Senate races were some of the closest in years, so when voting opened on January 6, many Latinos were on their way to cast their ballot.
On Monday, almost 80,000 Latinos had cast their ballot early for the Senate runoffs. The last runoff in Georgia was for the secretary of state in 2018 before November’s general election, in which Latinos increased their turnout by 10%.
Bernard Fraga, an associate professor of politics at Emory University, said it was “the highest turnout there will ever be for Latinos in a runoff.” Though history breaking and a way to demonstrate that Georgia has an established population of Latinos, the voter turnout of them is still unequivocal to Black, Asian and white communities.
Political activists, celebrities, and organizations helped mobilize the Latino vote in Georgia. This was after it became glaringly evident the runoffs would determine which party would control the Senate. Unfortunately for the Republican party, Senator David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lost the majority vote in the general election.
How did the state of Georgia increase voter turnout?
Between activists and volunteers, those who knew what was a stake partnered with nonprofit Latino groups in different counties to phone bank and canvas through towns. A popular comic book character explained Latinos’ purpose at the polls again after November’s primary’s and nationally recognized political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz pushed voters by using ‘Luchadores’ (Mexican wrestlers,) which could also be looked at as symbolism to fight the good fight.
Juntos, we can win.
— Mijente 🐜🐜🐜 (@ConMijente) December 2, 2020
The executive director of the Latino Community Fund, a nonprofit group, said Georgia “is our home, and it’s our right to participate and to define our future.”
Georgia’s population has just recently seen an increase in Latinos. Though small, it is gradually becoming apparent that Hispanics are migrating there and are creating an impact never seen before.
Michelle Zuluaga, a member of the Latino Community Find, spoke with NPR about the campaign efforts and Latinos calling for Democracy. Zuluaga shared that in addition to phone banking, her organization would also send out text messages.
Despite only 3% of Georgia voters being Latino, Zuluaga highlighted young voters’ impact in the community: “we’re just becoming more and more present with the political process, which is really what we focus on in our nonpartisan efforts.”
A new democracy is just a short distance away, thanks to the impact of grassroots politics and the political awakening of the communities of color who elected the officials we’ve hoped for the last four years.