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This special report in partnership with CNN en Espanol examined changes in the Latino electorate, registered voters, and voters in the U.S. and key swing states between 1992 and 2016. Methods: Data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration, as a part of the Current Population Survey data from the November Voter Supplements. The 2016 estimates were derived by using the yearly percentage rate of increase between 2004 and 2012. Results: The absolute number of Latinos eligible to vote, registered, and who voted grew dramatically. Yet the rates of Latino voter registration were almost exactly the same in 1992 (58.5%) and 2012 (58.7%). About 48.4% of the Latino electorate voted in 1992 and 48.0% voted in 2012. However, once registered to vote, Latinos vote at high rates—among registered Latinos 82.5% voted in 1992 and 81.7% in 2012. The data indicate that age and sex are also key factors. Discussion: Despite the fact that the Latino population of the United States has increased meteorically since the 1992 presidential elections, Latinos have not exerted their potential political influence because of relatively low voter registration rates. These data suggest that the problem facing Latino political, civic, religious, and other community organizations is not a traditional “get out the vote” campaign. Rather “get out the registration” drives may be the more useful activity to increase Latinos’ influence. Doing so will require efforts to inform Latinos of registration dates, locations, and rules; and to make those resources available in Spanish and English.


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Citation information: Bergad, L. W. (2016). The Latino Voter Registration Dilemma. New York, NY: Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.



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