The Latino electorate, citizens 18 years of age and older, has increased impressively between 1992 when it stood at approximately 8.8 million eligible voters and 2016 when there were 26.6 million eligible Latino voters. Yet, in every presidential election from 1992 through 2016 about 47% to 48% of all potential Latino voters actually went to the polls.
These data are based on the data presented by the U.S. Census Bureau for each presidential election and accessible on the Bureau’s Voting and Registration web site at https://www.census.gov/topics/public-sector/voting/data/tables.html. The 2016 data, released on May 11, 2017 are based on samples with a 1.5% margin of error for registered voters and the same margin of error for those who actually voted. All demographic data in this report were based on an analysis of the 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Sample released by IPUMS USA. Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 6.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2015. http://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V6.0.
The principal problem was not voter turnout. It is that Latinos register to vote at significantly lower rates than the other major U.S. race/ethnic groups. Between the 1992 and 2016 presidential elections the voter registration rate among eligible Latino voters has remained absolutely unchanged at about 57% to 58%, despite well publicized voter-registration drives. By way of comparison about 74% of non-Hispanic white and 69% of black potential voters registered to vote in the 2016 presidential election.
Once registered, Latinos do in fact vote at high rates. In the 2016 presidential elections about 83% of registered Latino voters went to the polls. Thus, the central problem facing Latino political, civic, religious, and other organizations is not a traditional ‘get out the vote’ campaign, which is always important on election day, but rather the challenge of increasing the Latino voter registration rate beyond the 57%/58% level which has remained unchanged between 1992 and 2016.