By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
The most recent voter registration numbers as of July 28, 2014 show that there are 1,705,985 Hispanics registered to vote in Florida in the upcoming elections. 14% of the 11, 807,507 Florida registered voters are Hispanic, making us the largest minority voting bloc in Florida. We surpassed the African American vote in Florida by 100,000. However, our numbers are possibly higher due to the fact that the voter registration applications did not start including the term Hispanic until after 1995 on the voting registration application. In addition, to this day, it is optional to place if you are Hispanic or not.
The five largest counties with registered Hispanics are:
710,446 in Miami Dade County
190,322 in Broward County
153,387 in Orange County
113,380 in Hillsborough County
81,641 in Palm Beach County
This makes South Florida the most populous area of Hispanic voters in Florida. In addition, we see why the Hispanic vote is the swing vote for the upcoming 2014 elections.
466,778 Hispanics are Republicans, 652,784 are Democrats and 558,707 have No Party Affiliation. There are only 20,831 registered as Independents. Due to the differences in cultural, political and social beliefs, it is very difficult to know how Hispanics are going to sway. The Hispanic vote is one of the few votes that campaigns will need to fight for.
You may ask; why such a large amount of No Party Affiliation? My theory? When I was spokeswoman at the Supervisor of Elections office in Broward County, the Voter Education and Outreach team would go to the Naturalization ceremonies to register new citizens. Many new citizens did not know what it meant to be a Republican or Democrat, so they opted to place No Party Affiliation when they registered. We live in a society where many Hispanics do not understand the beliefs of the two strongest parties that exist in the United States. Another theory is that those Hispanics, who do understand the political parties, are tired of promises, pandering and punishment and have changed their affiliation from a specific party to focusing on what a person has to give as a candidate. Hispanics, even when they are associated with a certain party, vote for the person and not the party. Although many may not understand what their political views are, they do get brownie points for being charismatic, Hispanic and for being verbal in regards to the issues that matter to Hispanics. Others just want a candidate that stands up for his or her beliefs.
Now, that you have the numbers, there should be no excuse for us Hispanics to not get involved in upcoming elections. There is no excuse for any of us, regardless of ethnicity not to get involved. The August Primary Election is Tuesday, August 26 and the General Election is Tuesday, November 4. If you are registered to vote, you should have received a voter registration card which tells you who your elected officials are. If you are a citizen and you are not registered to vote, it is too late to vote for the August 26 Primary. However you still have until Monday, October 6 to register for the upcoming November election. Here is a page where you can find your Supervisor of Elections office and register to vote or ask for a new voter information card if you cannot find yours: http://election.dos.state.fl.us/soe/supervisor_elections.asp