Santa Clara County Hispanic Voter Turnout Lagging

Editor’s Note: This story is part of the annual Mosaic journalism workshop for Bay Area high school students a two-week intensive course in journalism. Students of the program report and photograph stories under the guidance of professional journalists.

In a dismal turnout primary in Santa Clara County, in which only about a third of eligible voters voted, even a minority of Hispanic voters were heard.

Only 27% of registered Hispanics in the county voted in the June 7 primary, according to the Pew Research Center, the lowest turnout of any ethnic or racial group in the region.

Fabiola Ramirez, a 22-year-old Hispanic woman living in San Jose, did not vote in the election. “I decided not to vote because I didn’t know or was not well informed about the policy that was being advocated,” Ramirez said.

In the past, she voted when she entered San Jose State University, where faculty and students often discussed issues and the need to vote.

“I was in college when I voted, so I think it was more talked about in class,” she said.

One Hispanic activist in East San Jose was saddened and disappointed by the low turnout of Hispanics in the primary, but not shocked.

“It’s very disturbing to hear about low voter turnout,” said Jeremy Barousse of the Amigos de Guadalupe Center for Justice and Empowerment, a non-profit social service group in East San Jose.

“It’s a very working community. People work two, three jobs,” Barrus said of Hispanics in general. “When you’re working, you can’t participate or have time to find out about what’s on the ballot.”

According to the Santa Clara County Voter Registrar, the turnout among all registered voters was 33.4%, alarming some political experts.

However, Latino activists would like to see more voters like Diego Martinez, who favors voting.

Born and raised in San Jose, he voted in the June primary. Martinez is a San Jose State graduate who studied political science. He has voted in every election since he registered five years ago and even ran for the local school board.

“I decided to vote because I was lucky enough to know a lot of the people on the ballot,” Martinez said. “I’m very lucky to be involved in the community and just know what’s going on,” he said.

Martinez, who pays close attention to local politics, said elected officials in San Jose should be more Hispanic-oriented.

“With some educational way to do it, maybe in ads or ads between novels or football games,” Martinez said.

If Martinez represents the hope for higher turnout in Hispanic voters, then Lorena Ortiz represents the next generation of Hispanic voters.

A 16-year-old Hispanic Santa Clara High School student, Ortiz registered to vote, even though they can’t actually vote for two years.

Ortiz said not many Hispanic students are interested in voting because they live with families that don’t often talk about politics.

“Sometimes when immigrants come here, it’s like we’re here to work,” they said. “We are here to get money and that is why we have to come here,” they said.

“Hispanic families are not really interested in this, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t pay attention to it.”

Barus said one of the main reasons many Hispanics don’t vote is because, as a working community, Hispanics often don’t have time to focus on what’s going on in their community.

However, more Hispanics are more likely to vote if they see more representation among candidates who have experienced the same struggles as them, Baruss said.

“When people see candidates who are similar to them, who speak the same language, who share the same culture and the same values ​​as them, it can help,” Barus said. “It especially increases voter turnout.”

Ramirez also hopes to see more political rallies and more campaigning in Hispanic communities from candidates who will run in future elections.

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