SAN ANTONIO – Latino votes have historically been discouraged, but as the fastest growing population in Texas, both parties are trying to secure their vote.
UTSA Demography professor Rogelio Saenz said gerrymandering and voter ID laws are some of the recent efforts to keep Latinos from voting. He said in the ‘60s, Texas Rangers would patrol Latino-dominated areas in an effort to intimidate voters.
“The low efforts, low percentages that we see in registration, voter turnout, and so forth, reflect that long history of voter suppression and disenfranchisement here in Texas,” Saenz said.
Latinos are the fastest growing population in Texas, the majority being young. At least 204,000 Latinos turn 18 yearly, compared to 123,000 for the white population.
Saenz said Republicans see young Latinos as an opportunity to fill the gap in their rural stronghold.
“There are close to 200 counties in the state of Texas, most of those rural that lost population between 2010 and 2020. So you see Republican efforts to try to engage the Latino vote, particularly in the border area, particularly in the valley,” Saenz said.
Women of all races are expected to turn up in higher volumes after the overturning of Roe v Wade. Latinas are even more likely to show up to the polls as the Supreme Court’s decision disproportionately impacts Latina Texans.
UTSA Senior Jessica Veneges registered to vote on campus Tuesday. She said women’s rights and the economy are two important issues for her.
Saenz said this is common for young Latino voters because these two issues directly and disproportionately affect them.
Veneges hopes to change those issues at the ballot box.
“We always believe that, oh, it’s not going to matter. Even if I go out to vote, it’s not going to change anything. But that’s the mentality that always puts us back where we are,” Veneges said.
Register to vote here.