"Leave no doubt" in the 2020 election
Former U.S. Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte urges Latinos to rise above the mis- and disinformation campaigns plaguing the 2020 election and vote for a better future.
We are entering the home stretch of Election 2020, the most important and consequential election in recent history, and one that is especially critical to America’s Latino community.
Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the dangerous rhetoric regularly expressed by this administration. According to recent polling data from Latino Decisions and NALEO, a quarter of Latinos have been unable to meet basic needs during this pandemic, while one-third know someone who has died from the virus.
This is unacceptable.
As we get closer to Nov. 3, I am having more frequent and heated conversations with friends and family about the upcoming vote because, despite the negligence of President Trump, nearly 25% of Latinos still plan to cast their vote for him.
Latino voters are not a monolithic entity; we are independent thinkers and our vote preferences are going to vary, but this year something more nefarious is fueling the steady support from our community: Disinformation.
The isolation caused by the pandemic and the pervasive nature of disinformation is a perfect storm for creating a receptive audience for wild and baseless claims and conspiracy theories, with Latinos particularly susceptible.
As our community is unable to socialize in-person, they are compensating by listening to the radio, watching television, and going online, where they are likely to encounter disinformation. While we acknowledge the efficacy of the internet, it is increasingly clear that it can also be a Trojan Horse, a massive repository of knowledge that presents all information the same, regardless of its veracity.
This very real threat must be taken seriously, and the community needs to be aware that attempts to cause confusion are deliberate. We cannot be dissuaded from voting.
Bad actors from foreign countries have already begun infiltrating our communication channels, amplifying and exacerbating existing chaos and furthering the extreme polarization of our country. The 2020 election cycle has already been historically tumultuous.
For the first time in modern history, a sitting President is actively undermining our electoral process while putting millions of lives in danger. The president has purposely downplayed the severity of a global pandemic before being diagnosed himself.
He has consistently asserted that he is unwilling to accept the election results unless he is deemed the winner. He floated the unconstitutional idea that we should delay the election until the pandemic is over. He has repeatedly pushed blatant disinformation about using the postal service for sending in ballots and continues to make false claims that the American vote-by-mail system is fraudulent, even as he routinely casts his own vote in this manner.
The addition of foreign interference only serves to exacerbate the situation, causing further bewilderment and confusion in our community. Additionally, while we are used to the sight of in-person canvassers during election season, this year is obviously different.
Do not be discouraged.
Your vote will count.
Your vote matters.
Your vote is your power.
The Trump campaign has thrived on creating chaos and confusion, as this distracts from their disastrous and often xenophobic policies.
In the end, it is important that our community not lose faith in the electoral system and refrain from voting. Misinformation and disinformation must not be allowed to suppress the Latino vote. Our power is in our participation. Latinos are the second-largest population demographic in America at 60 million strong, with 32 million of those registered to vote. We have the power and the numbers to swing the election and save our Democracy, but we need to get out and vote.
Take the time to develop a voting plan. Look up the information on how to vote safely in your community and share your ideas with your friends and family who may be unsure of how to exercise their power.
Remember that unless this election is won by large numbers, the signals we have received from President Trump and his allies is that they will contest a close election. It is up to us to leave no doubt. It is up to us to send the message of certainty. The future for Latinos is now and we must flex our collective muscle through the most powerful tool in our arsenal, our vote.