Latino voters begin to flex political muscle in Georgia
The number of Latino voters in Georgia rose more than 57% between 2016 and 2020.

Political organizers hope that grass-roots campaigning will help Georgia's Latino vote continue to grow after record turnout in 2020, a trend that many believe will help Democrats in future elections.

According to statistics compiled by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), the state's Latino electorate grew by 140,995 new voters between 2016 and 2020 - an increase of 57.7%.

The total number of registered Latino voters in the state - 385,185 - now represents 4.1% of Georgia's total voters.

"The Latino electorate continues to grow and engage in Georgia despite the hostile environment of many years of anti-immigrant policies, anti-Latino politics, and ongoing voter suppression policies in Georgia," the GALEO report notes. "The Latino community is an integral part of the electorate that should be targeted, respected and courted by all political parties in the state."

 Bilingual outreach efforts key to securing Latino support for Democrats, Senators say

In an interview with local media, GALEO CEO Jerry Gonzalez said that "in a short amount of time the Latino community has become a power house for the state of Georgia particularly."

"The 2020 election had very tight margins so this growth in the Latino electorate really had a powerful effect of the outcome of the elections here in Georgia," he added.

The 2020 election had very tight margins so this growth in the Latino electorate really had a powerful effect

Importantly, Latino voters also played a key role in the special run-off election in January that saw Raphael G. Warnock and Jon Ossoff win their respective elections against Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The win allowed Democrats to take control of the Senate.

Both men believe that support among Latinos played a vital part in their electoral victory.

"They see themselves in my policies," Warnock told LPO.

 Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., top left, and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., with now-President Joe Biden.

Jon Ossoff, for his part, said that his own success among Latinos stemmed from recognizing the electorate's diversity.

"I was, as a candidate, and remain, as a Senator, visible, present, accessible and communicative in the Latino community constantly," he told LPO in an interview earlier this week.

"Part of that is communicating what I'm doing in both English and Spanish," he explained, adding that he is also active in Latino-owned small businesses with federal resources and discussing public health issues with the community.

An LPO source connected to the Democratic Party in Georgia - but who asked not to be named - said they believed that successful outreach strategies used in Georgia in 2020 would be replicated in the mid-term election in 2022, when vital House seats are going to be contested.

"I think that it worked, overall. Last year was an election that was won by narrow margins, so every additional vote, and every additional voter that registered, made a difference," the source said. "But there are still Latinos who can vote that didn't particularly younger ones. That's where the push needs to be made."

GALEO estimates the number of eligible Latinos that remain unregistered stands at approximately 88,000.

Malcolm Barrera, a 24-year old resident of Georgia's Gwinnett County, told LPO he was among those who voted for the first time.

"Last year really showed that we have a voice," he said. "It's really important. I'm going to help people to register next year. It's a very important election." 

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