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Wednesday May 27th, 2015 8:00AM

GALEO: Latino electorate in Hall Co. 5th-largest in state

By Ken Stanford Reporter
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ATLANTA - The Latino electorate in Georgia is now nearly 184,000 with the fifth-largest number of Latinos registered to vote residing in Hall County.

That's according to a new study released by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO).

According to the findings, "Georgia Latino voters are now 183,966 and growing."

The number of Latinos registered to vote in Hall County is 7,095 - fifth in the state behind Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb. The number of registered Latino voters in Hall County who went to the polls in last November's General Election was 2,614, or 36.8 percent, well-below the national Latino voter participation rate of 48%. Latinos are 8.34% of the electorate in Hall County. (Clink on the link below for a look at the full GALEO report. It includes data for all 159 counties in Georgia, all Congressional Districts, and all state House and Senate Legislative Districts. )

GALEO officials say the data analysis contained in the report - "The Continued Growth of the Latino Electorate in Georgia: Latino electorate reaches 183,966 voters and Metro Atlanta Counties lead," - indicates an electorate that will continue to evolve "in importance in Georgia's political arena."

Based upon the statewide voter data file and the analysis in this report as of January 2013, Latino voters have now reached 183,966, representing 3% of the electorate in Georgia. The Latino electorate grew by over 37,975 new Latino voters since the 2008 report, representing a growth rate of 26%.

But the Latino voter participation rate in Georgia dropped from 53.8% in 2008 to 47.1%, a rate drop of 6.7%. Despite this drop however, in raw numbers, the Georgia election in 2008 produced 78,525 Latino votes, while the total number of Latino voters in 2012 was 86,666, which was an increase of 9.4%. GALEO says the drop in Latino voter turn out shows a "troubling trend" and additional analysis is warranted to analyze the state voter ID and citizenship check efforts as potential causes for the drop in Latino voter participation.

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO concluded, "the numbers and the analysis presented in this report indicate a significant Latino electorate that is engaging quickly. The Latino electorate cares about the issue of immigration reform and has demonstrated a capacity to turn out to vote. As the 2014 election unfolds, candidates and elected officials should take the Latino electorate seriously because Latino voters in Georgia are engaged and participate in elections."
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