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Minority Voting Rights - Walla Walla, WA

Page history last edited by Zach Duffy 10 years, 8 months ago

Note: please note that this issue brief should (a) link back to the issue overview on this topic, (b) be focused either the local, state, national, or global level, and (c) be neutrally presented, based on facts, and include footnotes for each of the items.  See the Research Guide and Information Sources to assist you. 

 

Issue Overview:  Minority Voting Rights

 

Goal Statement 


  • To increase Latino political participation and representation in local elected office in small rural communities such as Walla Walla, WA.

 

 

Scope of the Problem


  • Out of 139 local offices in Walla Walla County, only 2 are held by Latinos, despite a percent Latino population in the county of 18.5%.[1] 
  • In Walla Walla, no Latinos who have run in contested elections between 2000-2008 won political office[2].  The election of Conrado Cavazos to the Walla Walla City Council in 2009 serves as the exception to the rule.[3]

 

  • Nearly all local elections in Walla Walla County are conducted under at-large voting systems which tend to systematically reduce the influence of the Latino vote.[4]
  • There is no outreach either by the county auditor or by political candidates[5]:
    • Save for voter registration forms, there are no bilingual elections materials even though 72% of Walla Walla’s Latinos speak Spanish at home and 41.4% speak English “less than well”[6].
    • The auditor's office, already the main local governmental record holding agency, is understaffed and underfunded to conduct outreach of any kind[7].
    • Latino political candidates fear a backlash by the non-Latino voters if they conduct Latino-specific outreach[8]
  • Vote by Mail: hidden costs
    • Every citizen interviewed by Minor and Serrurier pointed to the logistics of voting by mail as an additional hurdle to political participation. The ballot is only in English in Walla Walla as of 2010 therefore citizens receive the ballot in English and many not have anyone to help translate it for them.
  • Youth Impact: the children of many Spanish-speaking Latino citizens in Walla Walla often fill the role of translator for their parents. This is an imperfect system - 1) second-hand information is inferior, 2) this places the children in a position of power over their parents, 3) underage people are imperfect translators, and 4) they are not always available
    • Even so, the central role of Latino youth in Walla Walla elections merits attention and community organizing support

 

Current Policy 


  • There are no voter outreach programs in place in Walla Walla either by the county auditor or by local political candidates[9]
    • In the past the Democratic Party has conducted voter registration drives with the result of larger voter rolls but little turnout[10]
    • Other than voter registration forms, there are no bilingual voting materials. Currently, the county would need to provide such materials on a voluntary basis.[11]
 

 

Policy Options 


 

  • Both the county and political candidates SHOULD conduct outreach:
    • Latino candidates are key to increasing Latino participation, however if they do not conduct outreach, Latino turnout is likely to lag[12].

    • When the county undertakes Latino-specific, bilingual, voter outreach activities Latino turnout has been shown to increase by 5% [13].

    • Greater election turnout and political participation by Latinos can also be encouraged through measures that address the sociodemographic character of Latinos. Such measures may go beyond the provision of bilingual ballots or transportation of the polls to:
      • Increasing the involvement of Latino youth in churches, school programs, and soccer leagues.[14]
      • Ensuring that Latino students have access to and are aware of higher education opportunities.[15]
      • Encouraging non-partisan advocacy organizations to inform working-class Latinos about the importance of voting.[16]

 

  • The current at-large system of elections SHOULD change to either cumulative or limited voting:
    • The electoral system in Walla Walla requires that candidates win more than 50+1% of the vote to be elected, rendering virtually impossible for the Latino population (18.5% of the whole) to elect one of their own. [17][18]

    • In a study of jurisdictions with limited or cumulative voting election systems (with minority populations less than 50% of the total) Latinos were elected 70% of the time that they ran and African Americans 96% of the time [19].

       

Key Organizations/Individuals


 

  • Karen Martin, Walla Walla County Auditor: Responsible for records, licensing and voting for Walla Walla County. Ms. Martin was instrumental in allowing me access to all the voter records to the county and answering all of my questions.  Contact — email: kmmartin@co.walla-walla.wa.us, Phone: 509-524-2545, County Courthouse, Second Floor, Room 201, 315 West Main Street, PO Box 1856
  • The State of the State for Washington Latinos: This is the continuously updated online repository for all the research concerning the State of the State for Washington Latinos. This report along with all previous years’ reports can be downloaded in full at www.walatinos.org.
  • Office of Sam Reed, Secretary of State for the State of Washington: State office in charge of monitoring and regulating statewide elections. Contains statistics, voter registration forms, and general information for the state of Washington,
  • El Proyecto Voz Latina:  A community-based Latino civic engagement organization founded in the summer of 2009. Organizes political "fiestas" aimed at informing and empowering the public about local politics.

 

 

Bibliography


 

  • Barreto, Matt E. 2007. “Si se Puede! Latino Candidates and the Mobilization of Latino Voters.” American Political Science Review 101: 425-441
  • David Brockington et al. 1998. “Minority Representation under Cumulative and Limited Voting.” The Journal of Politics 60: 1108-1125
  • Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 <www.walatinos.org>.
  • Jones-Correa, Michael. 2005. “Language Provisions Under the Voting Rights Act: How Effective Are They?” 86: 549-565 
  • NALEO. 2006. Latino Vote in Washington: A Demographic and Political Profile of Latinos in Washington. NALEO Education Fund 
  • US Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. 2000. 2000 Census Washington: Department of Commerce. 
  • Washington State Office of the Secretary of State. 2007. Voter Registration ReportOlympia: Washington State Office of the Secretary of State.

 

 

Footnotes

  1. Duffy, Zachary. Unequal Opportunity: Latinos and Local Political Representation in Washington State. December 18th, 2009, www.walatinos.org
  2. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  3. Diaz, Alfred. "Cavazos Finally Lands Seat on City Council." Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. 10 Jan 2010. http://union-bulletin.com/stories/2010/01/09/cavazos-finally-lands-seat-on-city-council
  4. Duffy, Zachary. Unequal Opportunity: Latinos and Local Political Representation in Washington State. December 18th, 2009, www.walatinos.org
  5. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  6. US Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. 2000. 2000 Census Washington: Department of Commerce.
  7. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  8. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  9. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  10. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  11. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  12. Barreto, Matt E. 2007. “Si se Puede! Latino Candidates and the Mobilization of Latino Voters.” American Political Science Review 101: 425-441
  13. Jones-Correa, Michael. 2005. “Language Provisions Under the Voting Rights Act: How Effective Are They?” 86: 549-565
  14. Maffucci, Enrica. 2008. "Breaking the Cycle of Political Non-Participation: The Effect of Community Involvement and Civic Education on Latino Families." State of the State for Washington Latinos. Whitman College. 15 December 2009
  15. Ruiz-Soto, Ariel G. 2009. "The Future of the Children of Immigrants: A Study of Latino Higher Education Aspirations and Abilities." State of the State for Washington Latinos. Whitman College. 15 December 2009
  16. Miller, Andrea. 2008. "Latino Political Mobilization and Participation in Pasco, Washington: Exploring the Interaction between Political Environment and Organizational Strategy." State of the State for Washington Latinos. Whitman College. 15 December 2009
  17. Galvao, Pedro. "The Invisible Latino: A Study of the Electoral Politics of Walla Walla." State of the State for Washington Latinos. 06 Apr. 2009. Whitman College. 06 Apr. 2009 .
  18. Duffy, Zachary. Unequal Opportunity: Latinos and Local Political Representation in Washington State. December 18th, 2009, www.walatinos.org
  19. David Brockington et al. 1998. “Minority Representation under Cumulative and Limited Voting.” The Journal of Politics 60: 1108-1125

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