2016 Hispanic and Latino Voter Participation

Written and compiled by Bill Baugh, Win/Win

Voting participation among the Hispanic and Latino community in Washington State reached an all-
time high in 2016. While many obstacles exist that prohibit equitable voting participation, especially in
Latino communities, 2016 marked a record high in voter registration and vote share for the Latino
community in Washington. These trends are very encouraging and shows signs that the voter
participation gap in the Latino community is decreasing.

The four major data points we rely on to track disparities in Latino political participation include: Citizen
Voting Age Population (CVAP), voter registration percentage, voter turnout, and vote share.

Citizen Voting Age Population: CVAP is data that is collected by the American Community Survey and
gives the best estimates of the number of eligible Latino voters. Currently, Latinos make up 6.6% of all
eligible voters in Washington1.

Voter Registration Percentage: Voter registration percentage is the percentage of Latino voters among
all registered voters for any given year. In 2016, Latinos made up 4.7% of all registered voters in
Washington.

Voter Turnout: The percentage of registered voters that voted in a particular election. In 2016, 63% of all
registered Latinos voted in the general election.

Vote share: Different from voter turnout, vote share refers to the percentage of ballots cast for any
given election. In 2016, Latinos made up 3.7% of all ballots cast in the general election.

Looking at these four interrelated data points over time can help us better understand how the Latino
community is participating in the political process and help identify key trends. Latinos account for 6.6%
of the eligible voter population in Washington State, a rate that steadily increases by approximately .2%
every year. In theory, if no disparities exist, CVAP, voter registration and vote share would all be the
same number. Since Latinos account for 6.6% of all eligible voters, they should also account for 6.6% of
all registered voters and 6.6% of all ballots cast in every election. Unfortunately, barriers around
language and how to cast a ballot do exist and Latinos only account for 4.7% of all registered voters and
3.7% of ballots cast in the 2016 general election.

Increasing participation - and therefore reducing disparities - of underrepresented communities is a
priority of the Win/Win Network partners and a key tenant in our theory of change. A focus on voter
registration and voter mobilization among Latino communities could provide key opportunities in
reducing these disparities over the long-term.

1
The most recent CVAP data available is for 2015. The 2016 was estimated based on previous trends.

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The chart below looks at these trends over the past seven years.2 Although CVAP and voter registration
has steadily gained over the years, vote share fluctuates depending on the election year, with fewer
disparities in high-saliency elections and larger disparities in low-saliency elections, a trend that is
consistent among all underrepresented communities. As shown in the chart below, there was a
significant spike in both voter registration and vote share in 2016.

Historic Latino Voter Participation
7% 6.6%
6.4%
6.2%
5.7% 6.0%
6% 5.5%
5.2%
5% 4.7%
4.2%
3.7% 3.8% 4.0%
4%
3.3%
3.2% 3.7%
3%
3.0%
2%
2.1% 2.1%
1.8% 1.9% 2.0%
1%

0%
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Eligible Voters Registered Voters Vote Share

Voter Registration
2016 marked an all-time high for Latino voter registration. Hispanic and Latinos now account for 4.7%
of all registered voters in Washington, the highest rate it has ever been. In addition, Latinos accounted
for 9.7% of all new voter registrations in 2016, another record high. Even though these rates are very
encouraging and provide testimony to the importance of voter registration efforts, there are still
approximately 100,000 eligible Latino voters that are not registered to vote.

The chart below shows how the overall voter registration rate compares to that of new voter
registrations for each given year. The rate in which new Latino voters are registering to vote has steadily
increased over the past seven years. This rate has spiked in both 2015 and 2016, reaching 8.8% of new
registrations in 2015, and 9.7% in 2016. Considering that Latinos account for 6.6% of all eligible voters,

2
Reliable voter data is not available prior to 2010.

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the voter registration trends of the past two years is a promising sign that recent decrease in voter
disparity will continue to fall in the coming years.

Latino Percentage of New Voter Registrations
12%

10% 9.7%
8.8%
7.7% 7.7%
8% 7.5%
7.0%
6.1%
6%

4%

2%

0%
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

2016 New Voter Registrations
% of Eligible % of New
Voters Registrations
API 6.4% 8.1%
Black 3.4% 3.6%
Latino 6.4% 9.7%
White 79.5% 76.4%

New Voter Registration Counts
Total Latino Voter
Year % Latino
Registrations Registrations
2010 180,752 11,071 6.1%
2011 133,872 9,424 7.0%
2012 274,949 20,505 7.5%
2013 120,591 9,232 7.7%
2014 137,758 10,556 7.7%
2015 155,708 13,635 8.8%
2016 307,137 29,669 9.7%

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Vote Share and Voter Turnout
Turnout among the Latino community is lower when compared to the statewide average, which is
consistent across all other historically underrepresented communities in Washington. In addition, even
though the Latino vote share of 3.7% in 2016 was a record high, turnout among the Latino community
dropped from 64% in 2012, to 63% in 2016. This 1% drop doesn’t represent an abnormality when this
turnout is comparable to the state average and a drop among other communities. Considering that
Latino vote share and voter registration reached its highest point in 2016, the fact that voter turnout
remained fairly consistent suggests that voter mobilization were less responsible at reducing the Latino
voter participation disparities than voter registrations.

Historic Latino Turnout
90%
81% 79%
80%
71%
70%

60% 53% 64% 54% 63%
50% 45%
50% 38%
40%

30%
31% 29%
20%
22%
18%
10%

0%
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Statewide Latino

Election Results:
Without exit polls available in Washington State, we look to other interesting data points and precinct-
level trends to extrapolate relevant election information. By looking at precinct-level data, we can
isolate those that have large percentages of Latino voters and see how these precincts vote and/or roll
off (i.e. don’t vote the full ballot) on any given race. Though we won’t be able to attribute these trends

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directly to Latino voters, it does provide anecdotal information as to how people in the Latino
community voted.

The results below show interesting trends regarding Latino voting behavior. Precincts with at least 50%
Latino voters tend to be Democratic and support progressive initiatives. The higher the Latino
percentage, the larger the precincts supported these Democratic candidates. There are also interesting
trends relating to roll off - which refers to the percentage of people who cast a ballot in the election, but
failed to vote on a particular race. With exception to the Presidential race, precincts with larger number
of Latino voters tend to have a higher rate of roll off, suggesting that Latino voters are more prone to fill
out a partial ballot.

# of Clinton Inslee Initiative 1433
Latino % Turnout
Precincts Support Roll Off Support Roll Off Support Roll Off
Over 70% 19 55.3% 73.2% 4.0% 75.1% 5.2% 72.5% 5.0%
60 - 70% 21 56.6% 62.8% 4.4% 64.6% 5.9% 65.5% 5.7%
50 - 60% 22 61.8% 56.0% 5.0% 59.2% 4.2% 59.2% 4.1%
40 - 50% 30 66.3% 48.0% 5.1% 51.8% 4.6% 51.0% 4.7%
30 - 40% 47 66.4% 43.8% 4.0% 48.0% 3.7% 50.2% 4.1%
20 - 30% 80 71.9% 39.7% 5.0% 44.7% 3.7% 46.7% 4.0%

# of Initiative 1464 Initiative 1491 Initiative 1501
Latino % Turnout
Precincts Support Roll Off Support Roll Off Support Roll Off
Over 70% 19 55.3% 40.3% 10.4% 74.7% 6.1% 84.1% 7.4%
60 - 70% 21 56.6% 40.6% 10.0% 68.5% 6.0% 80.6% 7.0%
50 - 60% 22 61.8% 39.6% 9.0% 67.1% 5.4% 78.8% 6.1%
40 - 50% 30 66.3% 37.7% 10.9% 62.1% 6.5% 75.5% 6.3%
30 - 40% 47 66.4% 39.3% 8.1% 59.5% 4.5% 75.2% 6.8%
20 - 30% 80 71.9% 38.3% 11.2% 57.7% 8.2% 73.8% 8.6%

# of Initiative 732 Initiative 735
Latino % Turnout
Precincts Support Roll Off Support Roll Off
Over 70% 19 55.3% 47.9% 9.4% 62.4% 10.6%
60 - 70% 21 56.6% 44.4% 8.7% 60.7% 10.5%
50 - 60% 22 61.8% 41.6% 7.3% 59.7% 9.5%
40 - 50% 30 66.3% 35.4% 7.8% 54.7% 9.0%
30 - 40% 47 66.4% 35.4% 6.9% 55.9% 8.6%
20 - 30% 80 71.9% 32.8% 10.4% 54.1% 12.2%

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