Tuesday, May 28, 2024

LULAC mobilizing to boost young Latino voter turnout and census participation

The nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization is focusing on its youngest members — Latino youth.

Every 30 seconds, a young Latino becomes eligible to vote, according to U.S. census figures, and it’s that potential power at the voting booth that the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is looking to harness this election year. LULAC is using its 600 councils nationwide to ramp up voter efforts, using social media as part of its voter education awareness campaign and sponsoring voter registration drives in colleges and other places with large numbers of young people.

“There’s a hunger for our community to be involved and speaking up, of being face-to-face and personally involved and participating,” LULAC CEO Sindy Benavides tells NBC News. This week, LULAC brought more than 150 young Latinos and Latinas from around the country to the nation’s capital for sessions on community activism.

The young people participated in LULAC’s sixth annual Emerge Latino Conference, a multiday leadership training initiative. “It’s ensuring that our future leaders are harnessing power and are being trained on how to be advocates for our community,” said Benavides, who adds that the young people will take what they learned in Washington and help mobilize their classmates, friends, and families.

LULAC is one of several national Latino organizations actively involved in promoting participation in this year’s census. A recent poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that nearly half (49 percent) of Latinos still believe that a citizenship question will be included in the census even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against its inclusion.

LULAC is conducting census outreach through its councils in the mainland U.S. and in Puerto Rico, which include workshops and forums on how to fill out the forms, including assistance in Spanish. Since 2012, the organization has partnered with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund as well as other civil rights and labor organizations in the “ya es hora ¡HAGASE CONTAR! Campaign,” a national effort to promote census participation.