How Hurricane Maria Might Impact Voter Registration
Hurricane Maria destroyed thousands of homes and decimated the Caribbean, hitting the island of Puerto Rico particularly hard. Due in large part to the inadequate recovery and terrible living conditions left in the wake of the storm, many Puerto Ricans have left the island for the continental U.S, resettling in states and areas already home to large Puerto Rican communities.
Over the past 11 years, the number of Puerto Rican residents resettling in Florida has held steady at about 22,000 per year, largely fueled by the years of recession on the island. City Lab estimates that there were about 56,000 people in 2017 who relocated from Puerto Rico to Florida after Hurricane Maria, a significant jump that has secured Florida’s place as a top destination for migrants.
Since Puerto Rican residents are U.S. citizens, relocating from the island also allows these citizens to easily vote in elections. While voter registration usually goes down in off-year elections, Latino voter registration in Florida is higher this year than in recent midterm cycles, jumping up by over 6 percentage points which translates into about 125,000 new voters as of August 31st, 2018.
This chart shows the percent change in Latino voter registration in Florida between 2008 and 2018.
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