Where is Pennsylvania’s Latino vote headed?

Immigrants are confused or apathetic about local and state politics

Nationally, Latinos are flexing their growing political muscle. They now make up 11% of the U.S. House, for example. In Pennsylvania, however, Latino voters essentially sat out the last election. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer , turnout in the state’s most heavily Latino districts was less than half that of 2020. Turnout was lower among white and black voters, too, but by much smaller margins — 20% fewer white and 36% fewer black voters.

Why was the Latino drop-off so pronounced? Most Puerto Rican and Dominican voters number among the working poor, with lower levels of education and other characteristics of voters who reliably turn out in primaries and off-year elections. As Yesenia Rodriguez, a recent Democratic state House candidate in Hazleton put it, “most Dominicans vote only for president” and don’t follow local elections closely. Many newcomers to the U.S. are confused or apathetic about local and state politics, with their numerous off-year primaries and municipal elections.

This might help explain why just one Latino — Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, formerly the president of Reading’s city council — was elected to the state House, though there were four districts with sizable Latino demographics.

Cepeda-Freytiz’s background indicates […]

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Michelle Rojas-Soto is Social Justice Director at the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Managing Director at Encompass, a racial equity nonprofit. Her children attend LAUSD and Glendale USD schools.

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