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Latino Voters

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Latino Voters

A record number of Latinos—nearly 30 million—were eligible to vote in 2020. Of that nearly 30 million, a record 16.5 million voted. If we break down that number by gender, age, immigration status, and origin group a few trends emerge. 

Click to expand image Color photo of adults attending a two thousand sixteen political campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona.
Courtesy of Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Click to expand image Donut graph showing demographic characteristics of Latino eligible voters
Mapping the U.S. Latino Experience. 2021, National Museum of the American Latino.

Demographic characteristics of Latino eligible voters, 2020

Donut graph, title: Demographic characteristics of Latino eligible voters, twenty twenty. Six graph sections represent Latino groups. Mexicans make up about 60 percent; Puerto Ricans, about 13 percent; Cubans, Dominicans, and other Central - and South Americans, each less than 7 percent of eligible Latino voters.

Growing Number of Latino Voters

A record number of Latinos—16.5 million—voted in 2020, up from 12.7 million in 2016. Overall, more than half of all Latino eligible voters cast a ballot in 2020, up from 48% in 2016.  

The new voters mostly come from a few specific groups. Women, young people, Latinos born in the U.S., and those of Mexican origin had higher percentages of voters than other groups.

color photo of Maria Gonzalez Mabbutt, Director of Idaho Vote
Origin Groups

In 2020 Mexican Americans made up nearly 60% of the eligible Latino voting population. Puerto Ricans are the second largest Latino eligible voter group at 13%. They were followed by and Cubans at 5%, and Dominicans at 3%. People of Central American and South American origin made up 7% and 6% of the eligible voter population, respectively. 

Courtesy of AP Photo/Matt Cilley
Color photo of four smiling adults holding signs about voting
Community Voice: Language and Voting, UnidosUS

1992: NCLR President Raul Yzaguirre testifies before Congress in support of the third reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, which updated the law's limited-English proficient language protections implemented in 1975. As Yzaguirre powerfully points out, language access provisions empower every voter in an increasingly multicultural America - including Latino, Asian American and Native American voters. Today, UnidosUS continues to fight for policies that ensure every American's vote counts.

Courtesy of UnidosUS, 2021. 
Time magazine cover featuring color portrait of Governor Muñoz Marín
Find out More: A New Constitution

Puerto Rico’s constitution, written in 1952 under the guidance of Governor Luis Munoz Marín, designated the island as a commonwealth. Because Puerto Rico is not a state, its residents cannot vote in federal elections. Puerto Ricans who move to a state are eligible to vote in federal elections as soon as they register to do so.

Luis Muñoz Marín, June 23, 1958 (TIME Magazine cover). Bernard Safran, 1958. Courtesy of TIME. © 1958, TIME USA LLC. All rights reserved. Used under license. 
Click to expand image Bar graph, title: Latino voter turnout rates by age
Mapping the U.S. Latino Experience. 2021, National Museum of the American Latino.

Latino voter turnout rates by age, 2020

Bar graph, title: Latino voter turnout rates by age, twenty twenty. Vertical bars represent about 63 percent of Latino voters are in the 65+ age group; about 60 percent are in the 45-64 age group; about 50 percent are in the 30-44 age group; and about 44 percent are between the ages of 18-29.

Latino Voter Turn-Out Rates

Voter turn-out rates among Latinos reached 54% in 2020, up from 48% in 2016. This was the highest turn-out since 1992. Still, this means that only about half of the eligible Latino voters voted in recent elections. Within the 54%, women were more likely to vote than men. Half of eligible Latina women voters showed up to the polls, as compared to 45% of men. 

Maria Hinojosa on the Latino Voting Bloc

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Maria Hinojosa. Foro Storytellers, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
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rally in support of presidential candidate Barack Obama in Harlem, New York
Growing Voting Opportunities

Let’s break down who voted by age. Even though the Latino eligible voter population tends to be younger, older Latinos had better voter turn-out in 2020. Over 63% of the eligible Latino population over age 65 voted in 2020. The 45–64 age group was a close second, with over 60% voting, followed by those 30–44 at 53%. Lastly, the 18–29 age group had a turn-out rate around 44%.

Courtesy of Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo
HOLA Ohio group protest
Community Voice: Voting Registration, HOLA Ohio

HOLA Ohio supports immigrants throughout the citizenship process, providing access to free legal consultations with a licensed attorney, and free one-on-one tutoring, for individuals preparing for their naturalization interview. Importantly, the organization also helps people register to vote once they become U.S. citizens. One of HOLA's clients not only used her new citizenship to register to vote—she went even further by making a run for a city council seat.

Courtesy of HOLA Ohio, a UnidosUS Affiliate, 2021
Click to expand image Line graph, title: National Latino Eligible Voter Population
Mapping the U.S. Latino Experience. 2021, National Museum of the American Latino.

National Latino Eligible Voter Population, 1980-2020

Line graph, title: National Latino Eligible Voter Population, nineteen eighty to twenty twenty. One line represents percentage of Latino population eligible to vote: 1980, about 44 percent; 2000, about 40 percent. Then steady increase to nearly 50 percent from 2008 to 2020. Second line represents percentage of Latinos among all eligible voters: 1980, about 4 percent; 2008, around 9 percent; and 2020, around 13 percent.

Statewide Trends

At the state level, voter mobilization was especially active in 2020. Organized efforts tried to lure voters to the polls in both historic swing states and the most populous Latino states in the country. 

Color photo of a polling station inside a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles.
California

California Latino population in 2020 grew to 37.6%, the highest concentration of Latino residents of any state. California also has the largest number of Latino eligible voters. Its 7.8 million Latino voters skew younger. Over half of the nation’s Latino millennial population lives in California.

2019 California Polling Station. Courtesy of David McNew/ Getty Images 
Illustration of José Julio Sarria
Find out More: José Julio Sarria: Drag and Politics

California Latino voters and political participants have made history. In 1961, José Julio Sarria became the first openly gay person to run for public office in the U.S. Sarria was unsuccessful in his race for San Francisco Supervisor, but he opened the door for other LGBTQ individuals to run for office. 

Digital Artwork by Rafael López, 2021 

Gustavo Torres on the Importance of Latino Voting

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Gustavo Torres. Foro Storytellers, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
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