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Why the Latinx vote could be key to the election in Roanoke and beyond

32 million Latinx in the U.S. are eligible to vote this year, a demographic that could be key to the election.

ROANOKE, Va. – The Latinx population in the U.S. continues to rise, making it the largest minority ethnic group.

That also makes them one of the biggest demographic targets on the campaign trail. It’s a tactic that Ivonne Wallace-Fuentes, a professor of history at Roanoke College, has noticed.

“I think making a national appeal to Latinos is not as effective as a state or even a regional appeal to Latinos," she said.

Dr. Jose Banuelos Montes, a modern language professor at Roanoke College, said in the Roanoke area alone there are about 11,000 Latinx residents.

But many of them are undocumented and will not be showing up at the polls.

“The registered voters take into account of the immigrant community or the undocumented community here," Banuelos-Montes said.

“But let’s not forget many of their family members are documented and can be reached and become voters if they have the information and access to the polls," Wallace-Fuentes said.

According to Pew Research, more than 5% of eligible voters in the commonwealth are Latinx.

But when it comes to the Roanoke area, that number is even smaller. And yet, they could be the deciding factor in this year’s election, especially in local politics.

“The small margins of which we’re talking about are really small margins in really important in state, given our electoral college," Wallace-Fuentes said.

Banuelos-Montes says “you got to look in the future as well” as projections show by 2030 the Roanoke area could have about 20,000 to 30,000 Latinx residents.

“If the projections continue in that path then you are going to have more Spanish-speakers.”


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