Every election season we are flooded with headlines that suggest Latinos do not vote, despite being the largest racial or ethnic minority voting in the US presidential election this November. This stereotype has led to Latino voters being lumped together as “unmotivated” and “unengaged”. This year, we are going to show that not only do we vote, but we organize, educate and fill in the gaps where many presidential candidates have fallen short in motivating our communities.

There are so many different cultures represented by the “Latinx” label, but one thing we all have in common is the undeniable power of the mamá. Debates happen and decisions are made at our mom’s dinner tables, and we have begun to turn this power into political engagement. To channel this energy, mom-led organizations like MamásConPoder are taking a new approach this year: WhatsApp.

It is estimated that more than half of the US Latinx population uses WhatsApp at least monthly, with more than 32 million users and counting. Not only are an overwhelming number of Latinos on WhatsApp, but they use it far more than other popular voter engagement tools such as Instagram and Twitter. Currently, there are 10 million more Latinos on WhatsApp than on Instagram. In the case of Twitter, the number triples.

WhatsApp is an invaluable tool in reaching Latinos where we are and sharing educational materials that inform our voting decisions. This direct technological link to such an underserved voting bloc allows activists and community organizers to talk – whether in groups or one-on-one – with inquisitive voters and answer their questions. We can also use WhatsApp to share informative resources including videos, graphics and culturally relevant memes.

This work is critical, since Latinx communities historically have gone overlooked and unengaged by political campaigns. The apathy from political candidates has been so blatant that ahead of the presidential primary in Texas – a critical state for candidates of both parties – a poll from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement showed that 75% of young Latinos in Texas had not heard from any presidential campaign in the six months before the survey.

This lack of engagement has been mirrored across the country and across political parties. This is unacceptable. We – mothers, organizers and community leaders – are fighting for the rights we all deserve and stepping in because we know from experience that if we don’t do it ourselves, no one else will.

Luckily, we are not alone in our commitment to the Latinx voting bloc. Organizations such as Voto Latino are working to register voters through virtual events and rallies. And many state organizers have created coalitions dedicated to getting out the Latinx vote in major states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

While the issues that bring us to the ballot box might be different, the importance of our votes are the same. Our votes decide whether our loved ones have access to health insurance, housing and jobs that provide enough for their families. We are voting for the protection of immigrant rights and for the impact of the coronavirus and climate change to be taken seriously. We are voting for our livelihoods, our economies and for our right to be treated as equal in this country.

The work of Latinx organizers has shown that if we come together across cities, states and communities, we can ensure that everyone has the information they need to not only vote, but to feel empowered in their ability to make such an important decision.

Xochitl Oseguera is the vice-president of MamásConPoder

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