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Carlitos' World
by Carlos Correa
2004-02-01

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The year 2004 marks an important time in our nation's history, when voters flood the polls (in November) in order to exercise their privilege and make a difference on how our country will be run for the next four years.

The election season begins with a series of primaries and caucuses ending with a general election and a new president, but how will the turnout among Latino and African-American voters be this time around?

In a recent report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, voter turnout among communities of color may increase this election year.

The report says the voting rate among citizens who were registered in 2000 rose from 86% compared to 82% recorded four years prior. The voting rate for African-Americans slowly increased to 57% while the number of Latinos who visited the polls remained steady at 45%.

Some of the reasons as to why Americans dodged the polls back in 1996, according the report, were simply: Folks were too busy. With conflicting work and school schedules about one-third of 40 million people didn't vote, feeling their voice would not make a difference in the election.

Clearly, the country's future direction is in the hands of its voters. Many times our communities of color take for granted their right to voice their opinions. While others, continue to be unfamiliar with the issues that surround them and indirectly affect their lives.

It's also remarkable to have learned that even young adults ages 18 to 24 were missing their opportunities to vote as well. Many youth of color who are in college-level courses find it extremely difficult to detach themselves from classes when they are employed part-time and dealing with family and friends. Meanwhile, others just think the elections themselves have no impact on how they live. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, young adults ages 18 to 24 had the lowest voting rate turnout of any age group.

The highest voting participation, however, came from older adults who were in the age group of 55 to 74 years old. It was said that this age group were more likely to be concerned with common issues of present day, such as insurance.

This year Latino and African-American Democratic voters have a chance to choose one of candidates to become the frontrunner to beat George W. Bush out of the White house. The possible names on the ticket now include former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Retired General Wesley Clark, Rev. Al Sharpton, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

As the date nears to head to the polls [March 16 in Illinois], everyone should be aware of the issues that the man or woman selected to run against Bush supports. It will also benefit the country and our very lives if each of us took the time out of our busy schedules to visit the polls for less than 10 minutes to exercise our free privilege of voting. One ballot can make a world of difference.

www.carloscorrea.com


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