Thursday, July 18, 2024

Colorado Illustrates Increased Minority Voter Turnout in 2008 Election


A recently published survey by the U.S. Census Bureau presented voter turnout rates for last year’s presidential election. The results showed Colorado posting the ninth highest turnout rate in the country, well above the national turnout rate of 63.6 percent.

Increased participation by black and Latino Colorado voters contributed to the larger turnout. Jessie Ulibarri, the Colorado state director for Mi Familia Vota, a not-for-profit, get-out-the-vote organization, said the combination of the historic nature of the election and the state’s long list of ballot issues – one of which was a measure to do away with affirmative action – helped motivate minority voters.

The survey found black voter turnout jumped from less than 50 percent in the 2004 election to almost 60 percent in 2008. Latino turnout rose from 45.7 percent to 51.4. These increases were larger than the national averages, which saw each group’s turnout rise roughly 4 percentage points.

Both Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, and Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, believe the rise indicates the growing importance of these groups of voters and shows that both parties need to increase their outreach to them. Chairwoman Waak believes Democrats benefited more significantly with the higher minority turnout, but they must continue working especially focusing on voter registration. It was no secret to the Republican Party that the minority vote did not fall in their favor. “We need to do more,” Wadhams said as he explained that the Republican Party has already increased efforts for the 2010 election.

Ulibarri said that his and other Latino organizations contacted potential voters as many as six to seven times each during the run-up to the election, making sure they were registered and then encouraging them to vote. He explained that it was the most massive effort he has been involved with during his eight years working on elections. “We really were everywhere,” Ulibarri said.

Denver Post