Doesn’t it seem like people say that every election matters more than ever before? We’ve all heard it dozens of times – but this time, it’s true! Because of the number of issues that will directly impact the lives of so many in the Latino community, it’s especially important for Latinos to vote. Here’s why:
We are in the middle of a pandemic. Nationwide, Latinos are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In San Francisco, more Latinos contract coronavirus than any other group. Yet, those Latinos at greatest risk are uninsured, underinsured, or fearful of accessing government services. This election will play a role in determining how and where resources are allocated.
The pandemic has led to a failing economy. As soon as SF began to reopen, it was shut down again to ensure our safety. We are fortunate to have elected officials in SF and California who listen to science. Nevertheless, the lines for free groceries, clothing, and financial support grow longer and longer. We need to ensure that California receives funding that will support San Francisco’s workers, small businesses, and city departments.
Several issues on the ballot directly impact the Latino community. Should immigrants be allowed to be on city commissions? Should youth be allowed to vote in municipal elections? Should there be a minimum staffing requirement for the SF Police Department? Should local government have the authority to enact rent control on residential property? Should our money bail system be replaced with a system that is based on a person’s threat to public safety and flight risk? There are at least 25 different local, state, and district issues that will be on the November 2020 ballot. To varying degrees, our community will be directly or indirectly impacted by all of them.
The people we elect will impact the Latino community. As a nonprofit organization, we cannot participate in partisan activities, but we can tell you this: the next president will likely initiate legislation or executive orders to support or hinder immigrants’ paths to citizenship. Issues such as healthcare access, civil rights, workforce development and the minimum wage, and education will also be key issues in who we elect. Moreover, how these resources and reforms will be provided and who will pay for them will also be determined based on who we elect. From selecting our local supervisors to the President of the United States, the people we choose should reflect our interests and needs.
When we vote in numbers, our needs are heard and addressed. San Francisco Latinos comprise approximately 15% of the population, or 135,000 people. Yet, less than half of eligible Latinos have voted in several elections. When this happens, elected officials are less inclined to be accountable to us.
YOUR needs will be on the ballot! It comes down to this: all around us, we see our government in trouble - the economy, the police department, the schools, the health department, the post office, etc. We can have a voice in what happens to them and how they can better serve our community needs. Our vote is our voice. Let’s get LOUD!
In our next few blogs, we’ll talk about how, when, and where to register to vote, and the importance of creating a voting plan this year.