Number of Hispanic voters expected to double by 2030 - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Number of Hispanic voters expected to double by 2030

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As the face of America changes, so does the face of politics.

According to a Nov. 14 study from Pew Research, the Hispanic electorate is expected to double by 2030. That analysis is based on Pew studies, U.S. Census data, Election Day exit polling and a nationwide survey of Hispanic immigrants.

Hispanic voters turned out in record numbers for the Nov. 6 presidential election, making up 10 percent of total votes cast. However, the nation's 53 million Hispanics make up 17 percent of the country's population. Pew is projecting their share of the electorate to rise quickly for several reasons.

"The most important is that Hispanics are by far the nation's youngest ethnic group," according to Pew's findings. "Their median age is 27 years – and just 18 years among native-born Hispanics – compared with 42 years for that of non-white Hispanics. In the coming decades, their share of the age-eligible electorate will rise markedly through generational replacement alone."

According to Pew projections, Hispanics will account for 40 percent of the growth in voting-age adults in the U.S. between now and 2030, or 40 million adults. Currently, 23.7 million Hispanic adults are eligible to vote in the U.S. However, the number of expected Hispanic voters could double if the group's relatively low naturalization and voter participation rates increased. More than 40 million Hispanics in the U.S. either did not vote or were not eligible to vote in the 2012 election.

According to Pew, 11.2 million Hispanic adults were eligible to vote but chose not to, 5.4 million are adult legal permanent residents who could not vote because they have not yet become naturalized citizens of the U.S., 7.1 million are adult unauthorized immigrants who could only vote if Congress were to pass a law creating a pathway to citizenship for them and 17.6 million Hispanics were under the age of 18 and to young to vote. But that last statistic may soon change.

"That vast majority, 93 percent, of Latino youths are U.S.-born citizens and thus will automatically become eligible to vote when they turn 18," according to Pew. "Today, some 800,000 Latinos turn 18 each year. By 2030, this number could grow to 1 million per year, adding a potential electorate of more than 16 million new Latino voters to the rolls by 2030."

Despite the projected increase, West Virginia is home to very few Hispanics. According to the 2010 Census, about 11,700 Hispanics live in the Mountain State, or 0.7 percent of the population. Christiadi, a demographer with West Virginia University's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said because of the sparse population, Hispanic votes likely won't play much of a role in West Virginia politics.

"My take on this is that at the state level, Hispanic origin will less likely play a critical role in West Virginia's voting," he said. "At the county level, it may matter more.

"Keep in mind that in some counties, the higher shares of Hispanic population could be driven more by Hispanics living in (jail) rather than those living as regular residents."

The West Virginia Secretary of State's office does not keep track of voter ethnicity, and voters don't have to disclose their ethnicity when they register to vote.