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Here's what Kansas City advocates say will motivate Latino voters to get to the polls in 2024

Three people sit inside a radio studio at a circular desk. They are sitting at microphones. One person at left is talking and gesturing with both hands.
Carlos Moreno
Carlos Moreno
From left, Edgar Palacios, founder and CEO of Revolucion Educativa; Angela Ceceña Brunner, director of development and communications for the Mattie Rhodes Centers; and Melanie Arroyo, Lenexa City Council member, appear on KCUR's Up To Date on March 7, 2024.

A recent Pew Research Center study estimated that 36.2 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2024, making them the largest racial or ethnic minority voting bloc in the United States. As Latino communities in the Kansas City metro grow in size, advocacy groups and supportive elected officials are working to educate and empower potential voters.

Voting advocacy groups, nonprofits and elected officials are preparing to engage the Kansas City metro’s rapidly growing Latino population ahead of the 2024 election cycle.

More than 36 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in this year’s election, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Appearing on KCUR’s Up To Date, Edgar Palacios, CEO and Founder of Revolucion Educativa, mentioned some of the internal struggles these communities are facing in an election year.

“I think that we are trying to wrestle with this idea that we're incredibly diverse and not monolithic in our views, while also trying to find the ways that we are unifying,” Palacios said. “We as a collective voting bloc have a lot of power.”

Issues important to this powerful voting group are as varied as the Latino community, but Angela Ceceña Brunner, director of development and communications at Mattie Rhodes, says she expects cost of living concerns will be top of mind for many Latinos in the metro.

“We're hearing that the costs of childcare and affordable housing are huge. These are things that are affecting us day to day. If you can't find childcare, you can't go to work,” Brunner said. “We need to be able to take care of ourselves and find a place to live that's affordable.”

While many Latinos seem poised to act on these interests in the fall, projections on voter participation indicate that others won't take advantage of their voting strength.

According to an analysis from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, fewer than half of the more than 36 million Latinos eligible to vote will cast a ballot this November.

Lenexa Councilwoman Melanie Arroyo thinks this low participation rate is partly rooted in the lack of Latino representation in politics and in the organizations attempting to engage with their communities.

“They have never had anyone come to their door and talk to them about voting who looks like them and who can speak their language,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo, the first Latina elected to the Lenexa City Council, said she too was slow to participate in elections or politics. She was inspired to begin voting and run for office after seeing other Latinos in elected office.

“I was really inspired to vote after being able to connect with Susan Ruiz, who is a state legislator in Kansas who is also a Latina," Arroyo said. "Having more representation in local, state, and federal office really helps encourage us to want to vote because we see ourselves in those spaces."

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As KCUR’s Community Engagement Producer, I help welcome our audiences into the newsroom, and bring our journalism out into the communities we serve. Many people feel overlooked or misperceived by the media, and KCUR needs to do everything we can to cover and empower the diverse communities that make up the Kansas City metro — especially the ones who don’t know us in the first place. My work takes the form of reporting stories, holding community events, and bringing what I’ve learned back to Up To Date and the rest of KCUR.

What should KCUR be talking about? Who should we be talking to? Let me know. You can email me at zjperez@kcur.org or message me on Twitter at @zach_pepez.

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