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Politics

San Diego Latinos Urged To Register On National Voter Registration Day

Carmen Lopez, Latino outreach coordinator for the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office, urges City Heights residents to sign up to vote, Sept. 22, 2015.
Roland Lizarondo
Carmen Lopez, Latino outreach coordinator for the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office, urges City Heights residents to sign up to vote, Sept. 22, 2015.
San Diego Latinos Urged To Register On National Voter Registration Day
Latinos make up about a third of the county but less than a fifth of voters.

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Volunteers and staff with the Registrar of Voters fanned out across San Diego Tuesday for National Voter Registration Day. It's also Hispanic Heritage Month, so the focus was on getting Latinos to register.

"Telling our politicians what we like and what we don't like, I don't think we've exercised that to its fullest extent yet," said Carmen Lopez, Latino outreach coordinator for the registrar.

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A record number of Latinos registered before the 2012 election that won President Obama a second term and ushered a Democrat into the mayor's office for the first time in two decades. But turnout was still 10 percentage points lower than turnout citywide.

And Latinos are still underrepresented in the voting population. They make up about a third of the county but – with 261,094 registered – less than a fifth of voters.

Lopez said those figures don't necessarily have to do with a lack of engagement. She said many Latinos don't know they can get voting materials in Spanish so they don't register. They may speak English, but the complicated propositions are easier to understand in their native language, Lopez said.

She also said transiency due to renting keeps many from staying current on their registration, and that the population skews younger than other groups.

"We have a lot of work to do of getting people to vote consistently," Lopez said. "Our population is 11 years younger than the Anglo-Saxon median age."

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Lopez said a measure by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to automatically register Californians when they get their drivers licenses would help. But many in majority-Latino communities don't drive

Californians must register at least 15 days before the election in which they wish to vote.

The 2024 primary election is March 5. Find in-depth reporting on each race to help you understand what's on your ballot.