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California Voter Participation Survey

Cross-Tabulation Summary Report

Detailed Findings: Latinos

The respondents to the survey included 221 self-identified Latino or Hispanic infrequent voters and another 211 self-identified Latino nonvoters. Further analysis of these Latino respondents yields additional results.

Right Direction Versus Wrong Track

When asked whether California is going in the right direction or is off on the wrong track, Latinos responded more negatively than other respondents. While half of all infrequent voters think the state is going in the right direction and a third say wrong track, only 37% of Latino infrequent voters say right direction, while 45% say wrong track. Similarly, Latino nonvoters are more likely to feel that California is going on the wrong track (46%) than all nonvoters (37%).

Further, immigrant and first generation Latinos are more negative about the direction of California than later generation Latinos. For the purposes of this report, Latino respondents are divided into two groups. The first group is called “second generation or more” Latinos and is composed of those who—like their parents—were born in the United States. The second group is called less than second generation Latinos and is composed of those who were born abroad, or whose parents were born abroad. Latino second generation or more nonvoters responded 44% right direction and 34% wrong track, while less than second generation Latinos responded 33% right direction and 51% wrong track. Latino infrequent voters were similar. Latino second generation or more infrequent voters were split evenly—44% right direction and 44% wrong track—while less than second generation nonvoters were 34% right direction and 46% wrong track.

Right Direction / Wrong Track

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

Right Direction

50

37

40

37

Wrong Track

33

45

37

46

Don’t Know

17

18

23

17

 

Importance of Voting

Latinos ascribe similar importance to voting as other respondents. Just as with all respondents, Latino nonvoters are more likely than infrequent voters to say that voting is not important. While 80% of Latino infrequent voters say that voting is extremely or very important, only 51% of nonvoters agree. However, while Latino nonvoters hold a more negative view of voting than Latino infrequent voters, they hold a less negative view of voting than all nonvoters.  21% of Latino nonvoters say voting is not so important or not at all important, compared to 26% of all nonvoters.  

Importance of Voting

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

Extremely Important

28

31

22

27

Very Important

49

49

25

24

Moderately Important

19

15

26

28

Not So Important

2

3

13

11

Not At All Important

1

2

13

10

 

Most Important Reasons for Not Voting

Latinos, like other respondents, cite being busy as the main reason for not voting and not registering. 29% of Latino infrequent voters and 24% of Latino nonvoters said that being too busy to vote was their most important reason for not voting or registering to vote. Lack of quality candidates was a main reason for Latinos as well (21% for infrequent voters and 9% for nonvoters). For Latino nonvoters, the belief that voting does not make a difference also was significant (11%).

Most Important Reasons for Not Voting or Registering to Vote

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

I am too busy to vote

28

29

23

24

There are no candidates that I believe in

20

21

10

9

It’s too hard to get all the information I need to vote

9

5

5

5

There are no issues that affect me

6

6

2

1

I don’t remember to vote / I don’t remember how or where to register to vote

6

6

7

5

Voting doesn’t make a difference

3

2

10

11

Too many issues on the ballot

2

1

3

5

My polling place moves constantly

*

1

N/A

N/A

*Less than one percent.

Barriers in the Voting Process

For Latinos who completed their interview in Spanish, getting voter information in Spanish was the greatest logistical barrier to voting. Among these respondents, 29% said it was difficult to get voter material in their preferred language.  This compares to just 4% of all infrequent voters. 85% of Latino voters whose first and primary language is English said that getting information in their preferred language is very easy, compared to 57% of Latino voters whose first and primary language is not English.

With the exception of language, the ease or difficulty posed by barriers for Latino voters was similar to that cited by all infrequent voters.  Other barriers to voting include understanding the voter information pamphlet (22% difficult for Latino infrequent voters compared to 20% difficult for all infrequent voters) and getting the necessary information (20% difficult Latino infrequent voters compared to 20% for all infrequent voters).

Other parts of the voting process were less difficult for most Latinos, although there were still challenges. Voting by absentee ballot was described as difficult by 9%, voting at the polling place was described as difficult by 8%, finding one’s polling place was difficult for 6%, and registering to vote was difficult for 4% of Latino infrequent voters.  Again, these figures are very similar to results found when looking at all infrequent voters.

There is an information barrier due to language. More than one in three (35%) who completed the survey in Spanish said that getting information is difficult. And 27% of Latinos for whom English is not both their first and primary language said it is difficult.

The following table details results for all Latino infrequent voters.

Voting Process (Latino Infrequent Voters)

Very Easy

Some-what Easy

Difficult

Don’t Know / Haven’t Done

Reading and understanding the voter information pamphlet

42

24

22

12

Getting the information necessary to make your voting decision

48

27

20

15

Getting voter materials in your preferred language*

72

15

9

4

Voting by absentee ballot

29

10

9

52

Voting at your polling place

73

12

8

7

Finding your polling place

73

18

6

3

Registering to vote

77

18

4

1

*These percentages reflect all Latino respondents. Of those who completed the interviews in Spanish: 37% said very easy, 28% said somewhat easy, 29% said difficult, and 6% did not know.

The following table details results for Latino infrequent voters by language, divided between those Latinos whose first and primary language is English and those whose first and primary language is not English.

VOTING PROCESS:  LATINO INFREQUENT VOTERS BY LANGUAGE

LATINO

First & Primary Language: English

LATINO

First & Primary Language: NOT English

Very Easy

Some-what Easy

Difficult

Don’t Know / Haven’t Done

Very Easy

Some-what Easy

Difficult

Don’t Know / Haven’t Done

Reading and understanding the voter information pamphlet

44

34

20

2

38

33

24

5

Getting the information necessary to make your voting decision

52

32

14

2

45

22

27

6

Getting voter materials in your preferred language

85

8

5

2

57

21

14

8

Voting by absentee ballot

28

9

8

55

29

10

10

51

Voting at your polling place

77

11

7

5

69

14

10

7

Finding your polling place

75

17

5

3

69

19

8

4

Registering to vote

82

14

4

0

72

21

5

2

 

Voting Attitudes and Experiences

Latinos have slightly more positive attitudes toward voting than their non-Latino counterparts. Both Latino groups are more likely to say that voting is an important part of being a good citizen; that voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and community; that voting lets you choose who represents you in government; and that they believe voting makes a difference in the outcome of elections.

However, Latinos have less interest in politics and are less immersed in a pro-voting culture than other respondents. Latinos were less likely to say that they are interested in politics; that their family votes in most elections; that their friends vote in most elections; or that their families discussed political issues and candidates growing up. Latinos were more likely to say that their friends hardly ever talk about politics.

Among Latinos, as with all respondents, positive attitudes toward voting are more common among infrequent voters, while cynicism toward voting is more common among nonvoters.

Latino respondents generally feel positively about voting, see the importance of staying informed (96% infrequent voters and 84% of nonvoters agree), recognize their civic duty (96% infrequent voters and 76% of nonvoters agree), and see the opportunity to voice their opinions through voting (95% and 84%). Further, Latino respondents believe that voting lets you choose who represents you in government (91% and 74%), believe that their votes make a difference in the outcome of the election (90% and 73%), and believe that their votes are counted accurately (89% and 73%).

Despite an overall positive attitude toward voting, Latino infrequent voters and nonvoters are divided in how much they like voting. While 92% of Latino infrequent voters like voting, only 50% of Latino nonvoters do.

The presence of a pro-voting culture is also clearly different between the two Latino groups. Four in five infrequent voters follow politics in the news, while only 58% of nonvoters do. 77% of Latino infrequent voters’ and only 58% of nonvoters’ families vote in most elections, and growing up, 54% of infrequent voters’ families and only 37% of nonvoters families discussed political issues and candidates.

Both Latino groups’ friends are not particularly politically engaged. The majority of Latino infrequent voters and nonvoters agreed that their friends hardly ever talk about politics (58% and 61%, respectively), and only 55% of infrequent voters’ and 49% of nonvoters’ friends vote in most elections.

There is also strong cynicism among some Latinos in each group. One-third of each group says there’s no one on the ballot that they want to vote for and 26% of infrequent voters and 29% of nonvoters say that they believe they make more of a statement by not voting than by voting.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Voting Experiences and Attitudes

Latino
Infrequent
Voters

Latino
Nonvoters

Agree

Disagree

Agree

Disagree

It is important to stay informed about political issues

96

3

84

14

Voting is an important part of being a good citizen

95

4

76

19

Voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and your community

94

4

84

15

Poll workers are generally polite and helpful

89

6

N/A

N/A

I like to vote

92

8

50

37

I believe that when I vote, my vote will be counted accurately

89

10

73

22

Voting lets you choose who represents you in government

91

6

73

21

I believe that my vote makes a difference in the outcome of the election

90

9

69

30

My family votes in most or all elections

77

19

58

36

I am interested in politics and follow it in the news when I have the chance

80

20

58

40

My friends vote in most or all elections

55

31

49

39

Growing up, my family often discussed political issues and candidates

54

43

37

60

My friends hardly ever talk about politics

58

21

61

37

There is no one on the ballot that I want to vote for

33

58

58

49

I make more of a statement by not voting than I would if I voted

26

64

29

60

 

Most Important Reason to Vote

Latino respondents are most motivated to vote in order to make their voice heard. The majority of infrequent voters (51%) as well as a strong plurality of nonvoters (37%) named making their voice heard and expressing their opinion as the most important reason to vote. This is the top reason for all respondents, and it is even more important for Latinos.

Supporting a particular candidate is also named by a significant proportion of both groups. Further, 10% of nonvoters—including 20% of college-educated nonvoters—said the most important reason to vote is that you can’t complain unless you do.

Most Important Reason to Vote

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

Make your voice heard / express your opinion

43

51

32

37

To support a particular candidate

24

24

19

13

Civic duty

9

7

9

12

To support a particular ballot issue

6

4

5

9

Something on ballot affects my family

3

4

2

3

Can’t complain unless you vote

5

2

10

10

To oppose a particular candidate

2

2

3

*

Pressure from family & friends

1

*

1

*

Something on ballot affects pocketbook

1

*

2

*

People struggled for the right to vote

3

0

4

1

To oppose a particular ballot issue

*

0

1

*

As long as people don’t vote, government will be controlled by corporations/special interests

*

0

1

0

*Less than one percent.

Reasons People Don’t Vote

The top reason that Latino respondents do not vote in every election is that they feel that politics are controlled by special interests. More than 60% of both groups agreed that this was a reason  they personally do not vote in every election. This reason was particularly popular among college-educated Latinos – 82% of nonvoters and 69% of infrequent voters agreed that this was a reason for not always voting.

Candidates not speaking to respondents was also popular with Latinos, named by 54% of nonvoters and 49% of infrequent voters. Being busy was also a major reason, with 57% of nonvoters and 45% of infrequent voters agreeing that being busy prevents them from voting in every election. This reason was especially resonant with younger Latinos (58% and 50%).

Latinos are more likely than other respondents to agree that having too many things on the ballot is a reason they sometimes don’t vote. More than half of Latino nonvoters (52%) and 45% of infrequent voters agreed with the statement. Too many things on the ballot was an even more prevalent problem among less than second generation Latinos (57% of nonvoters and 51% of infrequent voters).

Difficulty sifting through available information to make good voting decisions was also a barrier to voting (56% of nonvoters and 44% of infrequent voters) for Latinos and was especially common among those who were not at least second generation (62% of nonvoters and 47% of infrequent voters).

Some Latino respondents don’t vote because the issues are too confusing (52% of nonvoters and 42% of infrequent voters). One in three Latino nonvoters and 45% of Latino infrequent voters named lack of interest in politics as a reason that they don’t vote. Latino respondents also named disbelief that their votes would be counted accurately (38% of nonvoters and 31% of infrequent voters) as a reason for not voting. Latino respondents also named distrust of election information (29% of each group); no perceived personal effect of election results (26% of nonvoters, 19% of infrequent voters); and belief that votes don’t make a difference (28% of nonvoters, 15% of infrequent voters).

Latinos also named difficulty getting necessary information (37% of nonvoters and 26% of infrequent voters). Difficulty getting necessary information was more likely to be named by less than second generation Latinos (42% of nonvoters and 31% infrequent voters). Not feeling that the United States is home was a reason for not voting for 8% of both groups, and for 15% of nonvoters and 10% of infrequent voters who were not born in the United States.

Some arguments, although less frequently named, were more likely to be named by Latino respondents. Difficulty using election equipment was more likely to be named by Latino respondents (19% of Latino nonvoters and 18% of Latino infrequent voters), as was discomfort at the polling place (11% of infrequent voters). Difficulty figuring out where to vote (17% of nonvoters and 13% of infrequent voters) was also more likely to be named by Latinos, especially Latinos who completed their interviews in Spanish and Latinos who were born outside the United States.

Latinos were more likely to agree with the statement that voting is an isolating and lonely experience (13% of infrequent voters and 17% of nonvoters). This was also the case among those not born in the United States. Unfriendly poll workers (10% of infrequent voters) was more likely to be named by Latinos, especially those for whom English is not their primary or first language. Finally, lack of access to election information in one’s preferred language was named as a reason for not voting by 17% of infrequent voters and 23% of nonvoters. Of those who completed the interviews in Spanish, this was a great barrier to voting (44% of nonvoters and 43% of infrequent voters).

REASONS PEOPLE DON’T VOTE (Percent Agree)

Infrequent Voters

Nonvoters

All

All
Latinos

1st Gen.

2nd Gen.

All

All
Latinos

1st Gen.

2nd Gen.

Politics are controlled by special interests

66

63

63

62

69

66

66

71

I don’t feel that candidates really speak to me

49

49

59

30

55

54

56

52

I am too busy with work or my family

43

45

45

44

46

57

61

47

There are just too many things on the ballot

37

45

51

34

44

52

57

44

It is too hard to sift through all the information available to make good decisions on how to vote

45

44

47

37

52

56

62

39

The issues are too confusing

42

42

43

36

48

52

56

44

I am just not interested in politics

29

33

38

23

45

45

46

45

I don’t believe that my vote will actually be counted accurately

22

31

29

36

38

38

36

42

I don’t trust any of the election information available

24

29

32

22

36

29

31

27

It is too hard to get the information necessary to make my voting decision

25

26

31

19

34

37

44

24

The results of elections just don’t have any effect on me personally

19

19

22

10

29

26

27

26

The voting equipment is difficult to use

9

18

17

18

13

19

19

19

I don’t have access to election information in my preferred language

10

17

22

10

12

23

26

18

My vote doesn’t make a difference

20

15

14

15

39

28

29

29

It’s too hard to figure out where to vote

11

13

13

8

18

17

19

13

Voting is an isolating and lonely experience

8

13

12

12

13

17

22

8

I’m not comfortable in my polling place

7

11

10

11

12

14

16

10

The poll workers are unfriendly or unhelpful

6

10

13

4

11

17

19

16

I do not feel that the United States is my home

6

8

7

8

9

8

8

5

The Time Barrier

Latinos who agreed that being busy was a reason for not voting were asked what their specific time barrier was. Latino respondents were similar to others in naming long job hours as the main component of the time barrier. One in three Latino nonvoters and 44% of Latino infrequent voters named long job hours. For employed Latinos, these numbers were even greater, with 61% of infrequent voters and 41% of nonvoters citing long job hours as the greatest component of the time barrier. Voting itself taking too much time was the second most named time barrier, with 19% of infrequent voters and 23% of nonvoters. Lack of childcare and difficulty finding the information to vote were also named. Of respondents with children, childcare was named by 16% of nonvoters and 10% of infrequent voters.

Click to enlarge

 

The Information Problem

The greatest problem with elections information is that it is hard to understand, according to Latino respondents. The majority of Latino infrequent voters and 43% of Latino nonvoters rated difficulty understanding information as the greatest information barrier. The untrustworthiness of information was also cited by one in four infrequent voters and one in three nonvoters. One in ten infrequent voters and one in six nonvoters also named the unavailability of information.

Click to enlarge

 

Registering to Vote

Latino nonvoters were asked to respond to a series of questions about their history of registering to vote. A number of barriers to registering to vote were cited by Latino nonvoters. Latinos were more likely to not know where to find voter registration forms (37%) than all nonvoters. More than one in five (23%) don’t want to register because they want to make sure that their information remains private, and 22% say that they don’t want to register because they don’t want to get called for jury duty. Almost one in five (18%) said that they thought they were already registered through the DMV.

One in three (33%) say they have been registered at some point before and 30% say they have filled out a voter registration form. Latinos were less likely than other nonvoters to say it is difficult to stay registered because they move around so much (18%).

Registering to Vote (Nonvoters)

 

Latino

All

I know where to find voter registration forms

63

68

I have been registered before, but not at my current address

33

44

I have filled out a voter registration form

30

30

I don’t want to register because I want my information to be private

23

23

I don’t want to register because I don’t want to get called for jury duty

22

24

I thought I was registered through the DMV

19

18

I move around so frequently that it is difficult to stay registered

18

24

I don’t want to register because it could cause trouble for my family

8

6

 

Issues that Motivate People to Vote

Like all respondents, Latinos are most motivated to vote by the issue of education and schools. Latinos also, especially infrequent voters, are motivated to vote by the issues of the economy, leadership, and health care.

Also motivating, though to fewer Latinos, are the war on Iraq, taxes, national security, the budget, and immigration. Immigration is slightly more of an issue to Latinos than to the population as a whole. The environment, crime, cost of living, growth, housing, and transportation were less motivating to Latino respondents.

Issues That Motivate People To Vote

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

Education/Schools

20

22

17

21

The Economy

17

15

11

9

Government/Leadership

12

12

13

8

Health Care

12

10

7

7

War on Iraq

10

8

7

9

Taxes

9

7

6

4

War on Terrorism/National Security

6

5

5

3

The Budget

5

5

2

1

Immigration

4

5

3

6

The Environment

4

3

2

3

Crime and Public Safety

3

2

3

2

Cost of Living

3

2

4

4

Growth, Development and Land Usage

1

*

1

0

Housing

1

*

1

*

Transportation, Roads and Freeways

1

0

1

1

Nothing would motivate me to vote

8

6

17

15

*Less than one percent

Election Day Holiday

An Election Day holiday does not have a significant effect on the likelihood that Latino respondents would vote any more than it does on all respondents. More than 60% of each group says that an Election Day holiday would not make any difference in how likely they are to vote. Of those who do say it will make a difference, a slight majority say it would make them more likely to vote.

Latino respondents for whom English is not their first language and who do not speak English as their primary language, and also those who are less than second generation are more likely to say that having Election Day as a holiday would make them more likely to vote. 23% of infrequent voters and 24% of nonvoters who do not speak English as their first and primary language say having Election Day as a holiday would make them more likely to vote, compared to just 13% of each group who said it would make them less likely to vote. Similarly, less than second generation Latinos were more likely to feel that an Election Day holiday would make them more likely to vote. 24% of nonvoters and 21% of infrequent voters say it would make them more likely, compared to 11% of each group who say it would make them less likely.

 

Election Day Holiday

 

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

 

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

More likely to vote

20

20

16

19

No difference

64

65

70

69

Less likely to vote

15

15

12

12

 

Election Information Sources

Respondents were asked about the influence that various sources of election information have on their voting decisions. Among Latino infrequent voters, conversations with family were the most influential information source. More than one in three said they were very influential, and two in three said they were very or moderately influential. TV news was next with 31% finding cable news very influential, and 30% finding network news very influential. In order of influence, next were local newspapers in English, followed by talk radio, conversations with friends, TV campaign ads, local radio news, campaign mail, alternative media, and endorsements from political figures.

Less influential were radio campaign ads, endorsements from community groups, the Internet, campaign phone calls, and door-knocking campaign volunteers.

Non-English language media was somewhat influential overall, but it was extremely influential with Latinos who completed the survey in Spanish. More than one in three (35%) of Spanish-dominant Latinos said non-English media were very influential and another 35% said they were moderately influential.

Election Information Sources (Latino Infrequent Voters)

Very Influential

Moderately Influential

Slightly Influential

Not At All Influential

Conversations with family

34

30

15

20

Cable TV news in English

31

31

14

23

Network TV news in English

30

34

18

16

Local newspaper in English

29

38

16

17

Talk radio

24

30

18

25

Conversations with friends

24

29

20

24

Media in a language other than English

24

26

13

35

TV ads from a political campaign

24

24

23

27

Local radio news

23

31

23

22

Mail from a political campaign

23

24

21

31

Alternative media

20

28

16

29

Endorsements from public figures

20

24

20

31

Radio ads from a political campaign

18

29

21

31

Endorsements from community groups

17

31

18

27

Internet

17

19

16

44

Phone call from a political campaign

10

20

20

46

Volunteer at your door from a political campaign

10

20

23

40

 

Language was a large determinant of how influential voters found sources of election information. The influence of information sources divides Latino respondents into two groups: respondents for whom English is both a primary and first language and respondents with a primary language other than English or a first language other than English.  Although many members of this latter group may in fact speak English, for the purposes of this report these groups will be labeled the English speaking group and the non-English speaking group.  In total, 108 English-speaking Latino infrequent voters and 106 non-English speaking Latino infrequent voters were surveyed.

All but one information source is more influential for the non-English speaking group. Even English television is more influential for the non-English speaking group. The most influential source for the non-English speaking group is conversations with family, while TV campaign ads is next, followed by English cable TV, and media in a language other than English.

Campaign communications are more influential with the non-English speaking group whether they are on TV, in the mail, on the radio, or door-to-door.

English television, English newspapers, and talk radio are the only information sources that were not significantly more influential with the non-English speaking group.

The following table details results regarding information sources for Latino infrequent voters, organized by language. 

Election Information Sources (Percent Very Influential by Language)
Latino Infrequent Voters

English is both 1st & primary language

English isn’t both 1st & primary language

Conversations with family

28

39

TV ads from a political campaign

14

34

Cable TV news in English

29

32

Media in a language other than English

15

32

Mail from a political campaign

15

31

Network TV news in English

29

31

Local radio news

16

31

Conversations with friends

19

29

Alternative media

13

28

Local newspaper in English

32

26

Endorsements from public figures

16

25

Radio ads from a political campaign

12

25

Talk radio

24

25

Endorsements from community groups

10

24

Internet

12

22

Phone call from a political campaign

5

15

Volunteer at your door from a political campaign

5

14

 

Current Events Information Sources

Television is an even more common information source among Latino voters than it is among all voters. 56% of Latino infrequent voters and 64% of Latino nonvoters get most of their information on current events from television. Latino nonvoters are more likely than other nonvoters to receive their information on current events from conversations with family and friends, and are less likely to receive information from the Internet.

Latino subgroups are divided in the information sources they are likely to use. Education is a dividing factor, with college graduates more likely to get their information from newspapers (27% of infrequent voters and 15% of nonvoters) and the Internet (16% of infrequent voters and 10% of nonvoters) and those without a college degree are more likely to get it from television (60% of infrequent voters and 65% of nonvoters).

Current Events Information Sources

 

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

 

All

Latinos

All

Latinos

Network TV

24

26

27

33

Cable TV

23

30

29

31

Newspaper

21

21

18

9

Internet

14

7

11

8

Radio

9

6

4

5

Conversations with friends & family

6

6

6

10

Alternative media

2

2

2

2

 

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