CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Americans are encouraged to exercise their right to vote from the moment they turn 18. However, one might say that it’s a different reality for Hispanic voters in South Carolina.
Often times fear, confusion and even the language barrier can get in the way. In the 2016 general election, Latinx voters had only a 5% turnout rate in South Carolina.
“You know, when you grow up with that fear of your parents being deported or your parent’s status in this country compromised at any moment. That kind of gets embedded in you as a child. You grow up with that atmosphere.”Nina Cano, Attorney
Attorney Nina Cano recognized that Latinx community members just needed a little inspiration to get involved in politics. Others simply felt like their vote didn’t even matter because of their cultural background.
“Several of my clients have told me that when they vote, they don’t feel like their vote really counts,” she says. “Because in their home country, they could vote, and then people would elect somebody and it would be somebody else that comes in.”
Cano started “Charleston VOTA,” a non-partisan organization that encourages and educates Latin American citizens in the Charleston area.
“On 1 hand we have people that are maybe too afraid to turn out and vote because of those reasons. On the other hand we might have more people that are incentivized to come out and vote because of those reasons,” she says.
In a recent poll from Emerson College regarding this weekend’s Primary Election, only 13 Hispanic/Latinx individuals out of 550 total responded.
Looking at this data, it’s clear that only a small percentage of Latinx voters participated in the poll. That being said, there are many factors that could have affected those that chose to participate.
Cano is hoping that she can continue encouraging the number of Hispanic voters to come out and vote in the general election. Beyond politics, she wants Latinx neighbors to stand up for their rights, their families, and their community.
“It’s not a privelege that we get to have in our home countries. So, being able to come to the US, and exercise their right to vote, and feel welcome, and in our ability to voice our opinions, and our political struggles, I think is so important,” says Cano.
For more information on Charleston VOTA, click here.