Social Institutions and Latinx Voter Turnout: A Mixed Methods Study From Texas, USA
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The Latinx population is the second largest ethnic group in the United States. In Texas, nearly two-fifths of the population is classified as Latinx, and Latinx persons make up over 28 percent of the state’s eligible voters. Yet, both in Texas and nationwide, Latinx voter turnout is consistently and disproportionately low compared to other ethnic groups. Consequently, Latinx persons are often viewed, collectively, as a “sleeping giant” in American politics – the group’s weighty presence in the population has yet to make its full imprint on the ballot box. This dissertation first unpacks the borderland histories and political institutions that have contributed to Latinx voter disenfranchisement today. Second, it demonstrates that the contemporary presence of social institutions such as, community and civil rights organizations, positively influences Latinx electoral engagement, yet argues the impact of social institutions on voter turnout is understudied. Third, then, this research demonstrates how social institutions influence Latinx voters to become politically active in Texas, as well as identifies specific types of institutions and their activities that increase political participation. Finally, I argue that elections are a form of commons that require collective governance mechanisms to ensure a democratic and egalitarian electoral process for all American voters. These findings have important implications for policy and research, as they suggest potential leverage points for increasing Latinx, and by extension minority turnout, in future elections.