8602382452?profile=original"Teresa Rey is one of the millions of mothers across the nation who carefully watched the first presidential debate of 2012. It is fair to say that Rey felt frustrated with the moderator’s lack of questions around family economic-security issues.

Questions about unfair wages for mothers, the high price of childcare and the lack of paid leave to care for children and the elderly were left off the table. The moderator also failed to ask the candidates about the contributions of immigrant families to the overall economy of our country. For Rey, who lives in Tampa, paying close attention to the candidates’ position on issues such as these is vital to ensuring that our communities thrive.

“Making a living wage is a big deal for us,” said Rey. “I was out of work. That’s rough. Even now, what I am making is a lot less than what I was making before, and I don’t have work benefits like healthcare. I also don’t have paid sick days, so if I or my daughters get sick, that’s a problem.”

Rey will be among an estimated 12 million Latinas and Latinos expected to cast ballots this year, up from 10 million in 2008, according to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Moreover, the size of the Latino constituency specifically in states expected to be very competitive in 2012 — such as Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia — means that the Latino vote is critical to choosing our next president.

The Latina mom voter is especially a force to be contended with. According to the polling firm Latino Decisions, Latinas, like women overall, have voted at higher rates than their male counterparts for the past three decades, and this pattern is expected to play out again in 2012. READ MORE

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