Hispanics are the least likely group in the country to be eligible to vote due to age and citizenship issues, but the numbers are on the rise.
A record number of 23.4 million Hispanics are registered to vote in the upcoming primary election, according to the Pew Research Center. This is a significant increase from 2008 when only 19.5 million were eligible.
The minority vote is detrimental to both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. Organizing for America campus representative Antonio Hairston says the minority vote is going to weigh heavily on this election.
“The minority vote will be extremely important. I believe minorities are standing up now more than ever and are determined to be heard,” he said.
To win the election, Obama will need at least 80 percent of the minority vote – African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and others combined. Romney’s campaign is focused on winning 61 percent of white voters to gain a national majority.
Hariston says the Latino voter increase will help because “that is the largest minority group in America and their voting is critical for the election.”
California and Texas are states with the largest Hispanic populations. Obama is projected to win California and Romney, Texas. However, neither are considered battleground states for this election. Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida also have high Hispanic turnouts, making up 15 percent of the voter population.
Florida has the third largest Hispanic population in the country. They make up one and a half million of the state’s voting population. Thirty-eight percent vote Democrat while 33 percent vote Republican.
The Division of Elections recorded that most Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade County voted Republican and had the highest number of voters.
Maria Castellanos, a sophomore elementary education student and first-time voter from Miami is unsure about how the increase in Hispanic voters will effect the outcome of the election.
“There are some serious issues that have the potential to change the culture of the country, especially Latinos,” Castellanos said, “and I think people are weighing their options between the candidates.”
Jobs, the economy, health care and immigration are at the top of the list when it comes to Hispanic issues in this country.
Earlier this year, a change was made to the Obama Deportation Policy, in which it “would not deport illegal immigrants who entered the country as children if they meet certain requirements.”
The change in policy allows citizens under 30 years old who came to the United States before age 16, who have no criminal background or pose no security threat and went to school or served in the military, to get a two-year deportation deferral. In addition, they can apply for work permits as long as they can prove they’ve been living in the country for five consecutive years.
On the contrary, Mitt Romney is in favor of self-deportation, a process that allows some 11 million illegal immigrants to leave the country voluntarily. He also plans to issue a card to all legal workers. By making it harder for illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, work and benefits, he believes they will choose to leave on their own.
Castellanos believes the candidate’s position on deportation will “make all the difference” in the Hispanic vote.