The 2016 Presidential Election is shaping up to be one of the most critical and divisive in recent history, which means that, now more than ever, every vote counts. And with political issues on the table that may directly affect young Latinos, many organizations are aiming to make sure their voices are heard.
New smartphone apps and websites that target Millennial Latinos are gaining traction this summer as the primary season draws to a close and the presidential candidates begin to lock in their platforms. Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — make up 44% of the eligible Hispanic voting population, and Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, which means that their votes could be decisive in shaping the outcome of the election.
However, only “44% of Hispanics said they were likely to vote in the November election, which compares to 70% of whites who say that they’re going to vote,” says John Rudolph, an executive producer with the public-radio organization Feet in 2 Worlds, which has just released a new iPhone voter registration and news app, called Unidos.
“Unidos came out of the work we’ve done during the past two presidential elections where we focused on campaign coverage by immigrant journalists from the perspective of immigrant voters,” Rudolph explains. “It was in 2008 that I first became aware of the potential power of Latino voters to shape the election’s outcome, as well as the historic pattern of low Latino voter turnout.”
The app provides election coverage in both English and Spanish, as well as custom emojis and videos to appeal to a young voting population. While the typical smartphone lasts only an average of two years, voter registration is a one-time process that can set young people up for life.
“For us, this is a tremendously important advancement,” says Mireya Reith of the Arkansas-based NWA Immigrant Resource Center. “We know that our Latino community, the primary way that they’re connecting with the internet, and in many ways connecting with the world is through their smart phones.”
Reith believes that Unidos and other apps like it, such as Voto Latino and Latinos Vote, “will help enhance participation, turn out and excitement about the elections, especially now at such an important time when so much is a stake for the Latino community.”