I have never once gone out to the polls during an election and cast my own vote. Not because I don’t believe in the importance of voting. On the contrary, I’m an advocate for people exercising their power to vote.
The reason I have never participated in an election is because I am a DACA recipient and legally not allowed to vote.
However, there are millions of young Latinos who are eligible to vote that are slowly coming into their power and realizing that voting is the key to a brighter future. As the Latino Community Foundation’s newest Civic Engagement Intern, I am determined to motivate young people like myself to be the difference in next year’s presidential election.
The time is ripe for this work. In the 2018 Midterm Elections, we witnessed young voter turnout increase to 27.5%, compared to 8.2% from the 2014 election. If young Latinos can continue this momentum into 2020, they will show the politcal system that we are a critical demographic in electoral politics. Candidates and political parties must therefore focus more of their attention on the needs of our Latino youth when shaping their policy agendas.
How we get there is simple: register more young Latinos to vote, provide voter education, and galvanize them around issues like climate change, gun control, immigration, and higher education. It is these issues that I faced as a young Latino growing up in San Diego, CA, and will continue to face my family going into 2020.
Over the next few months, I will be working with the Latino Community Foundation to do exactly that. We will work with Latino-led organizations across the state to provide the tools and the education necessary to get our community to the polls. These will also become the same tactics in ensuring that our families participate in the 2020 Census.
I may not be able to vote, but rest assured that I will spend every waking moment in the next year making sure that every young Latino, who is eligible to vote, knows that our time is now.
Jose Garcia is the Civic Engagement Intern at the Latino Community Foundation.