In mid-November, three youth from South Kern Sol had the opportunity to travel to Austin,Texas to participate in Voto Latino’s 10th Annual Power Summit. The youth, Marisol Sanchez, 17, Veronica Morley, 21, and Yesenia Aguilar, 19, heard from national figures like Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino’s President and CEO, as well as the former Secretary of Housing and Development, Julian Castro– who announced during the summit. that he is considering a run for president in 2020.
Voto Latino brought together nearly 500 youth leaders from Texas and several other states to empower and teach them about the importance of being civically engaged in their communities.
“Even if you are 17 or if you are undocumented and cannot vote- we all know someone who can and we need to make sure they get out to the polls on election day,” said Kumar during her welcome address.
“The take away message was that when communities stand together and vote, communities will rise up and be stronger,” said Reyna Olaguez, South Kern Sol’s Executive Director, who also attended the event. “In Kern and across the nation the reality is that youth are registering to vote, but very few are actually going to the polls on election day and this needs to change in order to change our communities for the better.”
“There are 41,000 registered voters between 18-24 years old in Kern County and only 19,000 voted in the 2016 general election. Out of those, 53 percent are Latino but only 44 percent voted. Youth participation lags behind older voters about 13 to 15 percent,” said Olaguez who added that there are about 365,000 registered voters in Kern.