‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation: Election 2020

It’s been four weeks since the polls closed, but the impact of the election is still unfolding. 

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On Monday, “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” host Hugo Balta moderated a community conversation about the election as part of a monthly series that coincides with two new weekend programs from WTTW News: “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” and “Chicago Tonight Black Voices.”

The conversation and panel discussion with Latino journalists and community leaders touched on the results of the election and their impact on the Latino community.

“One narrative that’s being missed is the actual voter turnout of Latinos in this general election,” said Roberto Valdez Jr. (@ravaldezjr ) of Latino Policy Forum. “I think sometimes we fall into the trap, ‘Oh they voted one way or another.’ I think we should celebrate the fact that we are increasing our turnout and that our community is diverse, and that includes political parties as well.”

Cristina Pacione-Zayas (@pacionezayas ) of The Puerto Rican Agenda credited community-based grassroots organizations for mobilizing the Latino community across the country. 

“If those organizations did not do the ground game, knocking doors, phone calls, text banking, TikTok videos, engaging all types of platforms, we would not have seen the type of turnout that we saw,” Pacione-Zayas said. “In many ways, Biden is a door, he’s not a destination for our community or other communities of color.”

More than 32 million Latinos were eligible to vote this year, according to the Pew Research Center. Moving forward, Pacione-Zayas would like candidates to recognize the diversity of opinions within the so-called Latino vote.

“People were motivated to get out of the current situation, but we have to acknowledge that both parties need to recognize the power of mobilizing at the grassroots level, and dedicating resources to the nuance and the complexity of all of the issues that are important to us,” Pacione-Zayas said.

Exit polls show that President Donald Trump improved among Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans in Florida. Meanwhile, Mexican Americans are credited for helping President-elect Joe Biden win in Arizona.

“The best analogy I can think of when it comes to the Latino vote is that it really represents a battleground state in every state,” said Carlos Ballesteros (@ballesteros_312) of Injustice Watch. “Every state had its own internal battleground dynamics when it comes to the ‘Latino vote,’ depending on the particulars of where they are.” 

Throughout the election, City Bureau’s coverage centered immigrant communities, said Alex Arriaga (@alexarriaga__).

“What we hear over and over from these communities is: We want better schools, we want our sidewalks repaired, we want safe streets, we want better parks. These are the basic things that aren’t necessarily just an immigration issue, but it’s these immigrant communities and where they end up here in the city and what those priorities looked like,” Arriaga said. 

The coronavirus was a top issue for Latino voters, Valdez said. 

“I think that with all of the challenges and barriers that COVID brought to actually voting, it also engaged folks knowing that this was a very important election,” Valdez said.


Upcoming event

Brandis Friedman will host our next community conversation at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28. She’ll talk with community leaders about the significance of Watch Night and New Year’s Day Celebrations for the Black community. 


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