Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The Hispanic population in central Texas tends to have low levels of civic engagement as compared to other groups in the same area, which leads to disproportionate political marginalization. Prior research has focused on characteristics of voters and nonvoters, but has failed to explore the lack of political mobilization among Hispanic voters. The purpose of this study was twofold; first to better understand the nature of Hispanic voters' political marginalization, and second, explore why participation levels are so low among this group. This general qualitative study applied critical race theory to explore the barriers perceived by Hispanic voters related to political marginalization that may contribute to low voter participation. Data were collected through interviews with 20 randomly selected Hispanic people residing in central Texas. Interview data were transcribed, inductively coded, and then organized into themes. The key research findings identified 3 themes that potentially explain low civic engagement; a general distrust in government, a deficiency of civics education in the public school system, and specific cultural preferences that may contribute to low levels of participation in voting and politics. Findings also revealed that there is little understanding of the voting process, and few public initiatives to encourage the Hispanic voter community to vote or otherwise engage in participatory democracy. Recommendations to policy makers to promote positive social change include increasing funding for civic education, and creating voter outreach programs. Policy makers and politicians should also seek out ways to build trust in the political process throughout the Hispanic community.