100 Years Later, Will Latinas Bring Change to Texas?

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In Partnership with Taking Texas to the Top Political Action Committee

Reclaim the 20’s is a digital series celebrating the 100-year anniversary of 19th Amendment guaranteeing (some) women the right to vote.

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

It was until many years later however, that Latinas and other women of color were actually able to exercise that right. Rampant discrimination occurred for decades before the voting rights act of 1965 effectively guaranteed all people of color the right to vote.

55 years after this landmark legislation passed, Texas is now home to more than 5.5 million Latinas making them the largest population of women of color in the entire state. While Texas is known for boasting about big things, Latina voter turnout hadn’t been one of them.

Groups like the Texas Organizing Project set out to do something about that. They combined year-round outreach around issues critical to black and brown communities with electoral organizing. In 2018, Texas Organizing Project PAC made 3.2 million voter outreach attempts and moved over 270,000 new midterm voters to the polls.

According to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, between 1996 and 2019, the number of Latinos serving in elected office in Texas increased substantially, from 1,689 to 2,739. The increase in Latino turnout also helped make history in 2018 by sending the first-ever elected Latinas to represent Texas in Congress, and electing Lina Hidalgo as Harris County Judge. She is the first Latina and the first woman to occupy that office and is the most powerful elected Democrat in the state.

Latinas have been left out of history not because they didn’t add to historical events, but because the writers of history weren’t forced to acknowledge Latina contributions. The same can be said about politics and political representation.

People running for office are trying to get elected, so they focus on the people who tend to vote. It then becomes easy for them to ignore the voters who have a history of not voting even though Latinos are affected by, and care about, the same issues as many other Americans.

“Latinos in Texas care deeply about the same issues as all Texans, such as economic opportunity, access to affordable health care, and immigration reform. After our community endured senseless tragedy in El Paso last year, Latinos in Texas are deeply aware of what is at stake this year at the ballot box,” stated Arturo Vargas, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.

In 2020 Latinas have the power to determine who wins everything from the Democratic Presidential Primary for the entire country down to who wins for District Attorney at the County and City level.

As of the last census estimate, Latinas numbered at least 5.5 million in Texas alone with the Latino community making up 40% of all the population in Texas.

That’s a lot of Latinas. And a lot of eligible voters.

After 100 years of women earning the right to vote, will Latinas exercise their political muscle and demonstrate their influence? Early voting is occurring in many states across the country including Texas. The ability to vote early ends Friday February 28th. Need to know how to flex your political muscle before Friday? Click here.

The Texas Organizing Project has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President in the Democratic Primary election.