Latinos are Voting in Record Numbers

Claremont, CA - The Tomas Rivera Center (TRC) released a report showing California Latinos went to the polls in record numbers during the 1994 election. But the real surprise: despite record-setting voter turnouts from the White non-Hispanic and African-American communities, the Latino share of the state's vote continued to grow, this time surpassing 11%.

While close senatorial and gubernatorial races served to heat things up, TRC President Dr. Harry Pachon felt Proposition 187, which limited state services to undocumented immigrants, probably fueled the voting explosion, which set records for Latino turnout in an off-year election. "You don't have to be a weatherman to know when there's a storm," Dr. Pachon said. "Contrary to many political analysts, Prop 187 apparently brought record numbers of Latinos to the polls."

Of those Latinos questioned in exit polls, only slightly less than 4 in 5 opposed Proposition 187. "It looks to us as if there is a growing community of Latinos who are politically aware and politically active, and there are single issues that can galvanize that Latino community," Dr. Pachon said. "Prop 187 won't be on the '96 ballot. But if another big issue comes up, maybe the Civil Rights Initiative, who knows?"

The report, an analysis of newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, showed that more than 1.1 million California Latinos voted in the 1994 election, up 34% from 844,000 in 1990, the last off-year election. The report also points out that while Latinos had a record turnout in the last election--47.5% of eligible Latinos voted--that rate was still below the participation rate of California as a whole. "The increasing share of California votes coming from the Latino community should not obscure the continuing problem posed by high levels of non-U.S. citizenship and non-registration," stated Pachon. "For every Latino who voted in 1994, there were three adult Latino non-citizens in California," he said. "Some of these Latinos are eligible and many have begun to naturalize, but they have not been able to achieve their goal of becoming full and equal participating members of U.S. civil society."

For questions concerning the report, please contact researcher Laura Morrow at: or call TRC at (909) 621-8897. The full report is available for $5.00 by calling TRC at the same number. The Tomas Rivera Center is a non-profit, non-partisan policy research institute affiliated with the Claremont Graduate School and the University of Texas at Austin. The Center focuses on issues of importance to the nation's Latino community. TRC headquarters are in Claremont, California.

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