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Voter registration lags among Latinos

Voter registration among Latinos isn’t keeping pace with the minority’s growing population.

That’s according to a new report from the Pew Center.

The Pew Center cites two main factors for the lag in Latino voter registration: the Hispanic population skews younger and Latinos are less likely to hold citizenship than other groups.

Pew found that 55 percent of Latinos nationwide are not eligible to vote because they are under age 18 or are adults without U.S. citizenship.

But the study finds turnout is low even among Latinos who are able to vote.

Latinos make up about eleven percent of eligible voters nationwide. In 2008, only half of that group voted.

About sixty five percent of whites and African Americans went to the polls in the same election.

University of Illinois Chicago Latino Studies professor Xóchitl Bada said high foreclosure rates among Latinos may also be a factor.

“Because foreclosures force you to lose your address,” Bada said. “So whenever you lose your address, you need to re-register. And if you are like moving from place to place, from rental to rental after you lost your home, the least of your priorities is to go and register to vote.”

Pew Center data shows Latinos faced foreclosure at more than twice the rate of whites from 2004 to 2008.

Nelson Soza is executive director of the Pilsen Alliance.

He said the lack of enthusiasm among Latino voters isn’t surprising.

“Many Latinos feel that their issues are always put on the back burner,” Sosa said. “And a lot of people don’t feel that the system is representing their interests. They feel that the system is rigged, that their voice is not important. And a lot of folks are staying home.”

The deadline for voter registration in Illinois is October 9.

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