Wednesday, September 30, 2020

As California prepares for next debate, the state still has millions of unregistered Latino voters

Millions of Latinos in California are still not registered to vote despite the state’s efforts to make voting easier.

In the 2018 midterms, Californians experienced a surge in voter registrations, so that some 20.34 million are now registered, including 5.3 million Latinos, according to Political Data Inc. The latest report from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office says that some 25.2 million people in the state are eligible to vote.

California is the state that has led the resistance to Trump Administration policies, primarily through legal battles in the courts. In addition, California has been facilitating voting ahead of 2020, including allowing registration on election day, early voting and mail-in periods and registering before turning 18 by election day.

The disengagement of millions of Latinos raises the stakes for Democratic presidential candidates who will be in Los Angeles tomorrow for the sixth presidential debate. The party has been troubled by a near lack of diversity among candidates who qualified for the debate and criticism over a nominating process that allows two states that are more than 90 percent white to vote first in the Democratic nomination race.

While Trump is certainly a motivating factor for Latinos turning out to vote, focus groups of California Latinos not registered or registered but not voting showed they have a tangible fear over the stepped up immigration enforcement, mixed emotions about the economy and an interest in political participation. “The negativity surrounding this administration certainly provides an important opportunity to achieve record Latino turnout comparable to 2018,” a memo summarizing the BOLD PAC focus groups says.

While California is certain to go blue, Democrats are keenly aware their presidential candidate, as well as congressional candidates in some districts, must excite a coalition of voters and be able to draw out the party’s base that is increasingly made up of voters of color. Of the candidates who will be on Thursday night’s debate stage, the most recent Telemundo poll showed Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are most preferred by Latinos.

NBC NEWS