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Latinos flexing political muscle in Gainesville, Hall

Report cites more than 40 percent rise in voter signups, participation

POSTED: July 7, 2017 12:30 a.m.

The number of Latinos registering and showing up to vote in Gainesville and Hall County elections is on the rise, according to a report released Thursday by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

In Hall County, the number of Latinos who registered to vote in the 2016 elections jumped 41.5 percent to 10,043 from the 7,095 who registered in 2012, the GALEO report shows.

The Latino electorate in Gainesville swelled by 42.7 percent to 2,259 registered voters in last year’s election compared to 1,583 registered voters in 2012.

More importantly, voter turnout by Latinos in Hall County in 2016 topped 48 percent, and 42 percent in Gainesville, both double-digit increases in voter participation.

GALEO has tracked Latino voting patterns in Georgia, its counties and cities over the past three presidential election cycles.

“Those are significant jumps in voter participation,” said GALEO Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez. “We (GALEO) are going to continue working on registering voters. We’ve been doing that work for many years now and we’re going to continue to do that to make sure that the Latino vote is heard and sought after for elections.”

The rise in the Latino electorate along with voter turnout continued statewide as well. In 2016, 244,140 Hispanics registered to vote, and more than 53 percent of them cast ballots. Four years earlier there were 183,966 Latinos on the voting rolls, and 47.1 percent voted.

Another trend spotted by the report is that Latinas in Georgia are leading the way at the ballot box with a 73 percent participation rate.

The report showed that women of all races participated nationally at a rate of 63 percent, while Hispanic women nationwide turned out to vote at a 50 percent rate.

“Latinas are breaking records in voter participation,” Gonzalez said. “It’s truly outstanding.”

Earlier this year, the Hall County Board of Elections and Voter Registration decided to make voting and ballot information available in Spanish as well as English to help the county’s growing Hispanic population.

Election board members explained the vote for bilingual ballots as a preemptive move that would steer the county from federal oversight and potential litigation.

“The vote still stands and we’ll continue to work with the county to ensure they move forward in a way they need to live up to the expectation of serving all the citizens of Hall County,” Gonzalez said.



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