WASHINGTON — Nonprofit Voto Latino twants to register 1 million new Latino voters by 2020, launching this week on-the-ground and digital efforts that target young people.
"Traditional campaigns are in a death spiral of lower and lower outreach that’s not touching a lot of folks that might be willing to get out and vote if they're asked to, but that hasn't been consistent," Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary during the Obama administration, said in an interview with USA TODAY.
According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos represented 11 percent of the American electorate in the 2016 presidential election, and millennials comprised 44 percent of eligible Latino voters.
Nearly 2.5 million Latino youth are expected to turn 18 by 2020, representing the largest boom in the Latino population and driver of growth among Latino voters, according to a statement released by the organization.
In the nonprofit's first bilingual campaign, Somos Mas (We Are More), aims to register young people to vote in time for midterms and the 2020 presidential election, in states with high Latino populations, specifically Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and California, This will include targeting 27 college campuses. Additionally, digital-only efforts will occur in North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"When you get the young people engaged, they get their parents engaged," said Castro, who recently jointed the board of Voto Latino and has been touted as a potential 2020 presidential candidate. "While there may be a focus on youth, there's gonna be a tremendous benefit to families, they are the purveyors of information."
Castro has said there hasn't been a more important time for people to get registered and to vote.
"It's clear that these days the Latino community is being pummeled like a piñata," said Castro, who specified immigration, healthcare and educational investment as issues within the Latino community. "We are seeing very meaningful decisions impacting the Latino community in bad ways and the only way were going to change that is to make the Latino community voice heard at the ballot box."
Longterm, the multi-year campaign is an attempt to reach "multi-generations" of eligible Latino voters to provide people with the tools they need to speak up for themselves, come election time.
Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino CEO and president, said that 80 percent of voter registrations occur after Labor Day weekend. Right now, the organization is building their team, traveling around the country and recently deployed a peer-to-peer app, Voter Pal, that allows people to register friends. They're also continuing to partner with organizations that young people use, including entertainment company Live Nation, Planned Parenthood and ride sharing services Uber and Lyft.
"We're focusing on the young person as the purveyor-saying yes we're voting and telling parents to do so as well," Kumar said. "This is important work to ensure the Latino community and America is well guided in the future because we elect office holders that care about the issues that impact growing segment of our population."