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Bigger role may be in store for minority voters in deciding elections

Newswatch 16's Marshall Keely spoke to a college professor about the role they play and the voting power in their hands.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The political ads are ratcheting up as state and federal candidates make their appeals to voters on hot-button issues.  

"There's a lot of attention being paid to who is going to be voting for which candidate," said Wilkes University Political Science Professor Dr. Benjamin Toll. 

Dr. Toll says the bulk of those voters falls into one category.

"We see from census data that about 60-65% of people identify as white and about 80% of the voters routinely in Pennsylvania are white. Here in this area, Luzerne County, Lackawanna County, it's an even higher percentage of people that are white," he said.

Tight margins in key races mean minority voters could have a bigger role in deciding elections. 

While they tend to vote Democrat, some experts point to Latino voter turnout as part of the reason Former President Trump won the state of Florida in 2020. 

With a growing Hispanic population in areas like Hazleton, Toll says some candidates see ground to be gained.

"Voters that are Hispanic and Latino, they care about politicians that actually seem to care about them. They want to see politicians that are interested in understanding the issues they are facing. Issue like immigration, but also economic issues," he explained.

But data shows that Hispanic and Latino communities don't show up to the polls as often as white or black Americans. 

Still, voter advocacy groups across the state and the nation want to make sure everyone has a chance to vote. 

"A voter turnout that more closely aligned with what the public looks like, would lead to more trust in government and it would lead to better representation," Dr. Toll added.

There's still time to register to vote. 

Election day is Tuesday, November 8.

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