Why Latinas (and Latinos) Should Vote

Hay que luchar for a better life for us and our children

By Lorraine Quintanar
Published on LatinoLA: November 7, 2006

Why Latinas (and Latinos) Should Vote

Editor's Note: A good friend, Sara Elena Loaiza, called to implore me take down LatinoLA and post a one word message: "VOTE!"

Needless to say, that's nearly impossible to do, but here we republish a timely editorial by the founder of, which we hope encourages, no, compels you to utilize your power to change the direction of our country / state / city. Although the focus is on Latinas, the message is appropriate for Latinos as well:


- Abelardo de la Pe?a Jr., editor/publisher,

When no one heard your silence in 2000 and 2004, did.

The inspiration for our online magazine began in the summer of 2004, when an article appeared in a woman's magazine reporting 22 million American women had not voted in the 2000 presidential election.

Shortly after the WOW factor wore off, we wondered how many of the women who did not vote were Latinas. After many weeks of searching the Internet, researching articles and reviewing studies on civic participation, we were no closer to an answer. However, what we did discover disturbed us deeply. Latina news coverage was scarce, trivial and it seemed mainstream media had decided immigration was our only issue.

As women, we know our issues are far-reaching, and as Latinas we know our issues go beyond immigration. Over the past year, has written about and uncovered many of the issues and challenges facing our families and communities today.

We've learned the struggle many Latinas face in finding affordable health insurance. We've learned that more than one-third of Latinas (37%) are uninsured. We learned there is a growing health epidemic among Latino youths--Latino children are now disproportionately obese when compared to non- Latino youths.

We learned that, some 30 years after the feminist revolution calling for the end of gender
discrimination, women are still paid considerably less then men. And we learned Latinas fare much worse, earning only 55 cents to a man's dollar.

Access to quality education is more elusive: Latino high school dropout rates remain high, and our college participation low.

Our constitutional right to our reproductive rights continues to be challenged, and the lack of access to safe birth-control options is placing many young women--especially Latinas--at risk.

Sadly, we've also learned when it comes to going to the polls, Latinos are among the most apathetic voters in the U.S., voting at significantly lower levels than their white and black counterparts.

Was 2000 a mirror for 2004? Unfortunately, yes. Civic participation among women in the 2004 presidential election wasn't much better than in the 2000 presidential election. Although, like the 22 million in 2000, the number remains unconfirmed, it is believed that some 20 million American women again elected not to vote two years ago.

Minimal time to research issues and candidates is the number one reason women say they don't vote, according to a national survey conducted by by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner (GQR) Research. Most women we know are multi-taskers; they operate their daily lives in warp speed constantly responding to work and life pressures. As women, we get it when we hear our sisters our moms and our friends say, "I'm tired."

Being a woman in America is not easy, and while our own personal struggles and pressures are real, they are not unique to the female experience. We know our own grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts faced the same family and work challenges, and
still they'd say hay que luchar for a better life for ourselves and our children.

We know throughout American history, women fought and struggled to ensure that future generations of American women are recognized and treated as equal citizens afforded with the same opportunities to pursue liberty, justice and happiness.

Being a woman in America is as much about responsibility as it is about the pursuit of equality. We have a responsibility to seek and to promote practical economic policy for all our citizens. We have a responsibility to seek and promote better access to health care and education. We have a responsibility to seek and promote safe schools and
child-care facilities. We have a responsibility to seek and promote tighter laws that protect women and children against violence. We have a responsibility to seek and promote laws that put an end to gender and workplace discrimination. We have a responsibility to
elect leaders who will seek and promote tolerance and equal opportunity to all citizens. We have a responsibility to the women who came before us--the women who fought for not only our right to vote, but our right to be recognized as full citizens under the law.

As Latinas, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our families to VOTE. Our political participation can make a difference today. Make your VOZ heard: VOTE. Hay que luchar for a better life for us and our children.

See you at the polls!

Con mucho cari?o,

Lorraine Quintanar

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