Exercise your right to vote

Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote in the Sept. 10 Democratic and Republican primaries. New York’s primaries are a crucial step in deciding how the city will be managed for the next four years. In the last election, our Latino community had disappointingly low levels of participation. We must use our voice and vote as tools to participate in democracy and hold elected officials accountable for serving our needs.

More than 2.4 million Latinos live in New York City, according to the 2010 Census—meaning we account for 29% of the population. And 23% of Hispanics are eligible to vote, making the Latino electorate a decisive factor during the election cycle. Therefore, our votes carry a lot of weight for the next mayor, who needs to focus on our community.

However, in 2009, out of 991,823 registered Latinos, only 242,508 exercised the right to vote. Even so, the impact of the Latino vote played a major role in an election that was decided by a very small margin. Also, Hispanics ushered John C. Liu to a historic victory, for office of city comptroller.

Even with our diversity, we Latinos share many needs and struggles that impact us.

Why should Latinos and all eligible citizens register and vote?

We carry a lot of weight. Politicians are numbers addicts. When they see that a high percentages of voter registration and participation at the polls, they’ll think twice before ignoring the calls of a united Latino community. When it comes to funding allocation, officials pay more attention to the communities that voted.

Representation in key cabinet positions. Communities with proven election power can demand for the heads of agencies to mirror their constituents.

The right to complain. For every four years, people complain nonstop about the current administration. But with the voter turnout shown above, no one has the right to complain if they didn’t participate in the election.

A vote is worth more than money when it comes to influencing a politician.

As a community, we must make the most of our potential, especially since we’re almost 30% of the population. Let’s not forget that not long ago, minority groups and women didn’t have the right to vote. Don’t take voting for granted. Register and exercise your right to vote.