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Latino voter group wants data equity during election cycles

midnight brewery latino vote.JPG
Kayla Young
WFAE/La Noticia
A Latino voter outreach event at Charlotte's Midnight Brewery in September encourages participation in the November 2022 election.

A Latino civic engagement group is working to petition North Carolina’s State Board of Elections to begin releasing turnout estimates for Latino voters, as it does with other demographics, during the early election process. Organizers say the issue is a matter of equity.

During early voting in North Carolina, regular updates are published on the State Board of Elections website with voter turnout numbers. Data is broken down by county, gender, age, political affiliation and race.

But Latino voter data isn’t released until later, sometimes well after Election Day, explains Wendy Mateo Pascual, an organizer of the Latino Civic Engagement Committee in Mecklenburg County.

“They are collecting the data [on Latinos] the same way that they are collecting for white, African Americans and the other race/ethnicity groups. So, we don't understand why they cannot provide our information,” Mateo Pascual said.

“It is hard for us when somebody in the media or people in the community ask how many Latinos already voted. And we cannot say because we don't have that information.”

The lack of data during early voting leaves Latino engagement groups in the dark, Mateo Pascual said, because they can’t measure if their outreach efforts are working.

She said the committee began requesting the timely release of Latino voter data from the state board of elections several years ago.

“The answer is always ‘no, because this is the way that the system works.’ But the system has to be changed because that is an inequality and injustice for our community that we are not receiving the information on time,” she said.

The State Board of Elections said it was working on a response to the committee and its petition but did not provide further comment.

About 26% of North Carolina’s Latin voters turned out for the November 2022 election, compared to 55% of non-Latino voters, according to the state board.

The Naleo Educational Fund estimates North Carolina has more than 342,000 potential Latino voters. About 68,000 of those voters turned out last November.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.