Latino Voters Turn Out In Record Numbers for Early Voting

Nevada voters line up Saturday for early voting

Reports on early voting show a heavy Latino turnout prior to Election Day. According to the New York Times; “Hispanic voters in key states surged to cast their ballots in the final days of early voting this weekend, a demonstration of political power…” Latino voters are casting votes in record numbers in nearly every state that allowed voting before November 8.

Early ballots cast by Latinos are up 103% in Florida over the number cast four years ago. In North Carolina, the number of early votes was up 85%. “The story of this election may be the mobilization of the Hispanic vote,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the New York Times.

In heavily Latino Nevada, reporters noted incredibly long lines at polling places filled with Hispanic voters. Many were voting for the first time and had only recently become citizens.

Sources around the country have told me that immigrant interest in becoming citizens started to rise in June of 2015. One attorney told me that “immigrants saw that their communities were in danger from a rising tide of hatred and they believed that becoming citizens and voting was the best way for Latinos to defend themselves.” By April of this year, near panic set in within immigrant neighborhoods. Anti-immigrant rallies and attacks had become commonplace. The rapid growth of the explicitly racist Alt-Right convinced many Latinos that their communities faced an existential threat.

Latino voters are also expected to turn out in high numbers in swing states like Virginia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Fear has been a great motivator in generating Latino turnout that will likely lead to a quantum leap in Latino political power. 2016 will mark an historic moment in the political life of America.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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