POLITICAL PARTIES

If you want to register Hispanic voters, go to a quinceañera

Connecting with tradition.
Connecting with tradition.
Image: (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Latino voters long have been an elusive group for US get-out-the vote campaigns to reach.

Now a Texas group has come up with a plan to court potential Hispanic voters where it has a 100% chance of finding them: Quinceañera parties.

Advocacy group Jolt Initiative is trying to convince Texan teens to throw civic-duty-themed quinces, as the traditional parties for 15-year-old girls are called for short. The birthday girl—with her parents’ permission—commits to put in a plug for voting in her thank-you speech, allow Jolt to register voters during the party, and spread the word about its work.

In exchange, they will get a free photo booth for the day. One winner will also get a visit to their party from a surprise celebrity.

“Brown. Beautiful. Unstoppable” read the slogan on the initiative’s website. #poderquince #quincepower.

Many attempts have been made to get more voters from Texas’s vast and expanding Latino population to the polls. Even last year, when Beto O’Rourke’s rock-star-like campaign for the US Senate drove a surge in voter turnout, Latinos underperformed other groups by a large margin.

Jolt is betting that it will have better luck by linking voting to the quinceañera tradition, one part cultural institution, one part rite of passage, and one big fiesta.

It’s one place where those trying to enlist new voters can find all generations, from children to grandparents. The parties are a particularly good spot to find young voters, who have traditionally lagged their elders in turnout. Added bonus: They will likely be in a good mood.

Jolt spokesman Antonio Arellano sees more upside to the strategy than that. The group’s research shows that young Latina women are more likely to be registered and vote than their male peers. He is hoping that when the star of the party talks up the idea of voting, other attendees will follow her advice.

“While voter registration is a big part of the campaign, it’s also about cultural change,” he said. “It’s about changing the mindset from minority to majority.”

Hispanics are set to become the largest group in the state by 2022.