See how we’re increasing the power of the Latino vote

Did you know that in 2016, the number of Latinos who voted in the election was the same as the number of eligible Hispanics who weren’t registered?Power of 18 | Register to Vote | UnidosUS

At the UnidosUS Leaders in Action Summit last week, Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Deputy Vice President of the Office of Policy and Advocacy, and Janet Hernandez, Senior Project Manager, Civic Engagement, gave a presentation about our efforts to empower eligible Latinos to register and become lifelong voters.


In 2016, the number of eligible registered Latino voters equaled those who were eligible, but not yet registered. “We could increase the power of our community by 200% by closing that gap,” Martinez de Castro said.

UnidosUS has long been committed to registering eligible Latino voters to increase our community’s engagement in our democracy. In 2012, our canvassing program in Florida registered nearly 60,000 new voters, only second to the Democratic Party. In 2016, we registered nearly 50,000 new voters.

UnidosUS | Power of 18
Young activists gathered at the 2018 UnidosUS Action Summit.

Martinez de Castro noted that voter registration is not typically where political parties invest their energies before an election. “The way that traditional political campaigns work is that they don’t believe in voter registration,” she said. Instead, she added, they look at mobilizing people who already vote. Those running the campaign ask themselves, “What’s the minimum amount of work we have to do?”

Young activists gathered at the 2018 UnidosUS Action Summit. | Power of 18Since 2002, UnidosUS has partnered with its Affiliates in its network to help them integrate voter registration into their existing programs through the Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Project (LEAP). As of 2016, UnidosUS has registered more than 100,000 new voters through this program through LEAP alone.

Martinez de Castro acknowledged that the process of registering and engaging voters is difficult. She cited her own experience after she became a citizen and was able to go to the polls for the first time.

“Who likes to not know what they’re doing?” she said when talking about the “lonely” and “confusing” process. “For some people, that’s reason enough not to.”


One of the ways that we are engaging Latino youth is through its Power of 18 campaign, which kicked off during the Leaders in Action Summit. Nearly one million Latino youth turn 18 every year, and this campaign is aiming to register eligible Latino youth prior to the 2018 midterm elections, empowering them to vote for the candidates and issues they feel best represent them.

Power of 18
East Austin Prep Students registered to vote through the UnidosUS High School Democracy Project lesson on voter registration.

Another way that UnidosUS is engaging Latino youth is through the High School Democracy Project, a program that is made up of lessons to teach students about democracy, government, and voting. Hernandez added that the lesson plans can also be used as a standalone piece for other programs, such as ESL classes or parent education sessions to engage adults in the process of voting.

At the end of the session, Hernandez and Martinez de Castro handed out commitment sheets to the audience. These pledges represented a commitment by those in the audience to register at least one eligible new voter each prior to the 2018 midterm elections.


1. If you’re not registered to vote, or if you’re not sure, check right now on

2. Get the word out: Share the website with your friends and family on Facebook.

3. Chip in to support UnidosUS’s voter registration efforts, and help make sure as many people as possible get the information they need to register to vote.


By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

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