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According to the Texas Secretary of State's office there is only 76% of voting age Texas residents registered to vote. That means that 24% of Texas residents are either not voting or not registered. In the 2008 November Elections only 59.5% of registered voters voted. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas had one of the lowest rates of voter turnout. How about Ector County? 78.5 of voting age Ector County residents are registered to vote. There are 70,269 registered voters. In the 2008 Municiple Elections, only 4060 votes were cast. In the November Election only 36,481 votes were cast. That is only 40.7% voter turnout. These numbers are striking. This was one of the driving factors that lead to the creation of Una Voz Unida. Now, the question that was before us was, where do we start? Careful analysis showed that Odessa and Ector County has an emerging Hispanic community that is not being engaged by any organization or political party. Further analysis shows that this large segment is not motivated to vote. There is a lack of connection with the issue or election. Less than 7% of this segment participated in the 2008 elections.
What is an emerging community? The Hispanic population in Ector County is 49% of the total population. In Odessa, according to the 2000 census, Hispanic population is at 41%. Rapid growth in diverse communities specifically in particular ethnic groups can be characterized as emerging. Specfically, Odessa has seen significant growth in the Hispanic population since 2000. The fact is that Odessa has been an emerging Hispanic community for some time now. Engaging emerging communities can be very complex. Questions that should be asked are: Who are the current recognized leaders? And what groups are advocating the interest of the community? These are just a couple of things that must be addressed when developing a strategic plan that engages the emerging community.
This is what we know: Across the country, in a Pew Research survey, 41% of all registered Hispanic voters view that there is no difference between the Republican and Democrat parties. For this reason, Hispanics are now called the "Swing Vote." However, with Hispanics only being 9% of the electorate, their turnout continues to be 6.5% nationally. Texas’s Hispanic population is the second largest in the nation. Nearly 8.4 million Hispanics reside in Texas, 19% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are 3.6 million eligible Hispanic voters in Texas, 20% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters. Texas’s population is 36% Hispanic, the third-highest Hispanic population share nationally (Pew Hispanic Center). The dramatic rise in Texas’ Hispanic population (both immigrant and native) has far-reaching implications. Hispanics’ higher-than-average birthrate suggests that this demographic segment will continue to grow at a more rapid pace than that of Anglos and blacks, even assuming no immigration. In addition, Hispanics, on average, are younger, which has ramifications for housing, education and the labor force(Petersen 2005).
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