Voter registration interest spikes among Hispanic citizens

Miguel Robles

Following the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, a Google Trend concerning Hispanic voter registration interest levels circulated on different social media platforms.

The search for “registrarse para votar,” which translates to “register to vote” in English, was at its all-time peak during the debate, and increased even further the day after.

Business sophomore Sabrina Sifuentes, a first-generation voter, said potential Hispanic voters’ sudden interest in this election is because of anger caused by negative claims made about their communities and on immigration during the presidential race.

Sifuentes said her decision to register stemmed from her parents’ lack of opportunity to voice their political views.

“It’s not something that’s talked about in a Hispanic household, at least not with mine,” Sifuentes said. “I am not happy with the current society we live in and I want to see changes. I’d like to be someone who changes the stereotype of the typical voter and I want to be a role model for my younger siblings and for generations after me.”

While people of Hispanic descent have continuously had the lowest voter turnout among other ethnicities, a July 2016 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 63 percent of Hispanic voters are more involved in this election than in 2012. This poll also shows that 60 percent of all voters are more involved than in the previous election.

Texas does not keep record of voters’ ethnicities upon registering; however, in various states across the nation, there have been rises in the number of Hispanic people making up the electorate. 

Kim Sue Lia “KSL” Perkes, communications director at the Travis County Tax Office, said people would be less inclined to register if asked their race or ethnicity.

“We don’t take that type of information because we want to keep registration as simple as possible,” Perkes said.

Bailey Schumm, director of Hook the Vote, a nonpartisan agency of Student Government, said government officials do not always reflect the diverse population they represent. As diversity among voters continues to rise, this trend will be reflected in the political atmosphere on both the national and state level, Schumm said.

“Diversity is necessary in terms of the government because you’ll find a lot of perspectives and priorities,” said Schumm, a public health junior. “Voting is one of the easiest ways of influencing your government.”