People ≠ Voters — That New York Times story pointed out that only 10 million Latinos voted in the 2008 election, 9 percent of all voters, and that was a record high. Why so low? For one thing, the Hispanic population is younger than the general population: 27.4 years was the median age for Hispanics in 2009, vs. 36.8 years for the U.S. Younger ages are less likely to vote, and a disproportionately large percentage of Hispanics aren’t even of voting age.
Another important point: No one knows how many of those 50 million Hispanics are citizens eligible to vote. The Census counts people in the U.S., not citizens. Someone from the Bureau told me that interviewers do not ask about citizenship nor do they record citizenship status. There has been a groundswell of Hispanics entering the U.S. over the last decade, some legally but many not, which has led to a huge national debate over immigration. How many of the 15.2 million more Hispanics (between 2000 and 2010) are eligible to vote? We simply don’t know from Census surveys, but it’s reasonable to think that many, and perhaps most, can’t—at least not legally.