The Hispanic vote is expected to have a tremendous influence on this year’s presidential election due to a dramatic increase of Latino voters in the country, Hispanic journalists recently said at a panel session.
“Every month, 50,000 Hispanics become capable to vote,” Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas said. “Every 30 seconds, a Hispanic in the United States turns 18 years old.”
Salinas was one of three panelists who participated in a discussion about the importance of the Latino vote in the November election. The event, sponsored by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the School of Communication, drew an audience of about 25 students on Friday night in Shoma Hall. The other panelists included popular Miami radio personality Julio Cesar Camacho and Dominican journalist Dario Mendrano, who participated via Skype from Santo Domingo.
The moderator was Natalia Crujeiras, the director of broadcast operations at the School of Communication.
In 2008, nearly 10 million Hispanics voted in the presidential election that brought Barack Obama into office, according to Pew Research Center.
This year, that number is expected to increase, with about 12 million Hispanics already registered and an estimated 8 million more who are not yet registered.
Though Hispanics now make up the largest minority ethnic group, they haven’t always turned out to vote in such high numbers in past elections.
“Sometimes Hispanics decide not to vote because they come from countries where there is no functional voting system and others don’t register because they feel their voice won’t be heard,” said Salinas. “There are millions of Latinos in this country; we can make the difference.”
Chavez suggested that the Hispanic vote this time could play a key role in helping Obama win re-election.
“The Democratic Party has demonstrated more interest in the Hispanic vote, as opposed to the Republican Party, which continues to reject this ethnic group and not realize the importance the Cuban-American vote is to win the elections,” he said.
One UM student who attended the panel discussion says Hispanics have a chance to be heard this November.
“It presents a really difficult situation when families are separated due to immigration circumstances,” said Stephanie Salees. “The only way to let them know that we are important as a community is by showing the importance of our vote.”