Latinos are the biggest ethnic group in Texas, but their political power lags behind

Latinos have become the dominant ethnic group in Texas according to the U.S. Census Bureau, despite continuing political underrepresentation.

The new data: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos made up 40.2% of Texas’s population in summer, surpassing the non-Hispanic white share of 39.8%.
* Experts note that Latinos have been the largest ethnic group in the state for some time, but undercounts in the census delayed official confirmation.

Key challenges to Latino political catalyst: Various factors contribute to the underrepresentation of Latinos in Texas politics, including the youth of the Latino population and concerns about voter access.
* The CEO of nonpartisan organization NALEO explained that more than half of all Texans below the age of 18 are Latinos, suggesting a significant part of the community is too young to vote.
* Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, highlighted structural barriers including redistricting and alleged discriminatory voter ID laws which could impact Latino representation.

Efforts to boost Latino political power: Across the state, community groups and activists are taking steps to close the representation gap, with initiatives like educating Latinos about voting processes and upcoming elections.
* Susana Carranza, who is involved in local outreach, emphasized the importance of engaging potential Latino voters in friendly environments and addressing their questions and concerns to boost registration and voting rates.
* Political action committee Habla y Vota focuses on increasing Latino voter engagement by going where the community gathers, such as bakeries, restaurants, and outdoor events.

Underfunding issues: Investment barriers persist in Latino communities, affecting their political influence.
* Parties are slowly recognizing the potential of courting Latino voters. NALEO CEO Arturo Vargas emphasizes that the future success of Texas is linked to the economic and social success of Latinos within the state.

View original article on NPR

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