Thursday, July 18, 2024

Group finds new way to get more Latinos to vote: “Quinceañeras”

In the world of quinceañeras, there are padrinos (godparents) and a Mass, the chambelanes and damas (boy and girl attendants), a waltz, and possibly soon — voter registration.

Yesterday, Jolt Initiative, a Texas-based Latino civic participation advocacy group, launched an effort to get young Latinas preparing to celebrate their quinceañeras to register their ceremonies with its Poder Quince/ Quince Power campaign. “Second to churches, this is the best way to reach Latinos. Nothing congregates or builds communities in Latino culture like quinceañeras,” said Cristina Tzintzún Ramírez, founder and executive director of the nonprofit.

For those who doubt tradition can be molded to a new purpose, Tzintzún points out that quinceañeras now can feature choreographed or “surprise” dances and other trends; “We are building a culture of voting empowerment through one of the most important traditions that exist in our community,” she said.

Tzintzún said tapping into the quinceañera honors the tradition and the community, but also recognizes the role Latinas are playing in driving political change in the state. Texas Latinas ages 18 to 24 are 25 percent more likely to vote than their male counterparts and 5 percent more likely to vote than their non-Latina female counterparts, according to research by the group.

The group hopes young girls will incorporate into their celebration a speech to guests about the power that the Latino community can exercise and about their right to vote. Even if the celebrants and their friends are too young to vote, many of their guests won’t be.

“For us, this is about community, not just politics,” Tzintzún said. “We want to defend and honor the community and what better way than to lift up the power of our vote in the community, particularly with half of all those turning 18 in our state (being) Latino?”

The group plans to attend 15 quinceañeras a week in Austin, Dallas and Houston and register 5,000 people to vote in the campaign’s first eight months. Girls who sign up to participate will get a free photo booth at their event, Snapchat filters tailored for their venue, and for one winner — a celebrity appearance.