Rock the Vote

Monterroso: If Latinos want to become a true powerhouse in this country, they need to vote

Mi Familia Vota volunteers going to the neighborhoods to register voters

Ben Monterroso says that it is more important than ever for Latinos to vote massively in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The executive director of Mi Familia Vota (My Family Votes) says that not participating is not an option.

“We have the right to participate and we should. We have commitments from both candidates and we want them to fulfill them, queremos que nos cumplan. The Latino community has been taken for granted, now we need to make ourselves heard,” Monterroso says.

The director of the grassroots nonprofit undertaking the role of getting more Latinos into the election booth personally benefitted from the 1986 amnesty and made it his lifetime mission to be involved and engage others in the civic and political arenas.

He says that the Latino community has not defended itself, or protected itself, with the power given by participating in the electoral process and voting.

“We’ve given them (the president of the United States, representatives and senators, and all the other branches of the government) permission to abuse us,” Monterroso states.

Monterroso explains that those in the Latino community who have the luxury y el honor of voting are representing the entire community and giving voice to the voiceless.

“For us, it should be more than a vote. Our future, and the future of millions who do not have the power of voting, is at stake,” the leader of Mi Familia Vota says.

Getting over disappointment and moving on
It’s a well-known fact that Latinos gave President Obama a huge push at the 2008 presidential election (67% of the Latino votes went to Obama). It’s also a well-known fact that promises made four years ago, including Comprehensive Immigration Reform, were not kept. A layer of disillusion and frustration has permeated the Latino community, making it resistant to rhetoric-only messages.

Monterroso says that because of that, Latinos need to get over what did not happen and make sure that this time around they are heard loud and clear.

“The people who did not made an effort to come out and cast a vote in the last elections are responsible for what’s going on in the Latino community,” Monterroso says. He adds that political figures use the Latino community to advance their own agendas and that by voting we get to have an input into what happens next.

“We can continue to be used and discarded or we can truly influence the outcomes of the political game. Protesting is worthless if we don’t participate in elections, all of them, including local. We need to vote and then we need to keep the pressure on those we put in office and make sure they take their electoral promises seriously,” Monterroso says.

The director of Mi Familia Vota reasons that there are a couple of factors why eligible Latinos are not voting. The first one is work. With elections not being mandatory and falling on a weekday, many potential voters may not feel it is worth their time and they may not even know their employers have to allow the paid time to vote. But, more importantly, says Monterroso, the parties have not established a deep, true and alive connection in the community. Candidates are seen as outsiders and factual information is not readily available.

Latino Power
Candidates respond to two things: voting power and economic power. Latinos have a growing economic power and are establishing themselves as a leading political power. The numbers are there to show the growth as well as the potential.

The Latino vote may ultimately decide who will win the upcoming presidential election. With 50,000 U.S. Latinos turning 18 (legal voting age) each month, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund expects that an estimated 12.2 million Latinos will vote in the upcoming elections. This statistic is greatly shaping the political landscape as we get closer to Election Day.

By the numbers

  • 50 Million of Hispanics in the U.S.
  • If Hispanics in the U.S. were a country, it would be the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and the 17th economy
  • 1 out of every 6 people in the U.S. is Hispanic
  • 1 out of every 4 new babies born in the U.S. is Hispanic
  • 95% of the teen population growth in the U.S. through 2020 will come from the Hispanic community
  • In 2010, 42.7% of the Hispanic population, or 21.4 million, was eligible to vote (from 13.2 million in 2000)
  • In 2010, Latino college graduates had the highest voter turnout rate (50.3%) among Latino eligible voters, while young Latinos ages 18 to 29 had the lowest (17.6%)
  • Top and lowest participation by country of origin: Nearly half (49.3%) of Cuban-origin Latinos voted in 2010 compared with 29.6% of Puerto Rican-origin Latinos and 28.7% of Mexican-origin Latinos
  • Similarly, a greater share of naturalized foreign-born Latinos than native-born Latinos voted—36.6% versus 29.2%.
  • The NALEO Educational Fund projects that the Latino vote will increase 26% from 2008, and Latinos will account for at least 8.7% of the country’s voters.
  • NALEO also projects that California, Florida and Illinois are likely to see the greatest percentage increase in turnout since 2008. In three states – California, New Mexico, and Texas – at least one in five voters will be Latino, with the Latino share of the electorate in New Mexico reaching 35%.

Source: NALEO, Pew Hispanic Center, U.S. Census

Participation in 2012


Latino Voters


From 2008

Projected Share
of Latino Vote

























New Jersey




New Mexico




New York








Source: NALEO Educational Fund

The Latino vote has become a pivotal factor for many political candidates. But Mi Familia Vota Education Fund understands that though the Latino vote continues to grow with each presidential election, much work needs to be done to fully engage eligible Latinos in the electoral process. In 2008, 19.5 million Latinos were eligible to vote, but half did not cast their ballots, either because they were not registered or simply did not vote.

MFV envisions a future in which the electorate is energized and empowered, and reflective of the growing diversity of the United States.

“At present time, it’s clear that our numbers at the ballot box don’t reflect our growing population figures. That’s why MFV is working arduously to ensure that the size and impact of the Latino vote is larger than it was four years ago,” says Monterroso.

With Latinos becoming almost a third of the U.S. population in our lifetime (2050) and with most of the growth now coming from births in the United States, it is a fact that the party that gets it right today will be setting the foundation of future wins for generations to come.

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One thought on “Monterroso: If Latinos want to become a true powerhouse in this country, they need to vote”

  1. Nothing gets things done like a powerful voting lobby. People at the political extremes are courted because they vote. If those in the center did in as great a proportion, we would be able to find our way out of legislative gridlock. VOTE – your country needs your voice.

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