Voter growth in Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
Democracia U.S.A. (DUSA), a national non-partisan Hispanic civic engagement program, announced today that it has registered over 105,342 new Hispanic voters from Arizona, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania—creating a 27 percent increase in the number of registered Hispanic voters in Pennsylvania alone. DUSA, a project of People For the American Way Foundation, has active operations throughout Hispanic neighborhoods in each of these states.
"Democracia USA's mission is to increase Hispanic engagement and participation in the political process. Voting is the first step. It’s good for our families, our communities, and for our democracy," said DUSA National Executive Director Jorge Mursuli. "There is a growing sense of political engagement in the Hispanic community, and a sense of emerging political power. We had tremendous success in Florida, and we’ve exceeded our goals with our expansion into three new states during this mid-term election. We expect to expand much farther in the 2008 cycle."
The breakdown of new voter registrations by state is: 56,003 in Florida; 25,669 in Pennsylvania; 20,560 in New Jersey; and 3,110 in Arizona. In Pennsylvania, which has the lowest proportion of Latinos in its population, DUSA's registration drive increased the number of registered Hispanic voters by 27 percent since 2004. The increase in both Florida and New Jersey was six percent. The voter drive in Arizona was a smaller pilot project, where the percentage increase in registered Hispanic voters was just under one percent.
Mursuli said the 2006 registrations were carried out with remarkable speed by a total of just 500 canvassers and organizers on the ground. DUSA's registration work in Florida was carried out in 30 weeks. The organization spent 21 weeks registering voters in Pennsylvania, 10 weeks in New Jersey, and seven weeks in Arizona.
"As Hispanics and Latinos grow in numbers, we also have a responsibility to increase our political activism. Many people in our community feel under attack and helpless. The best way to change how politicians view us, and how we view ourselves, is by making a difference in elections," Mursuli continued.
The largest group of new voters across all four states is people between the ages of 18 and 39, making up 54% of total registrations. Mursuli considers that to be the most compelling statistic of the operation. He said, "Younger groups are quicker to understand the connection between voting and a better future. This is significant because the largest group of Hispanics in America is people under 40."
Joining Mursuli for the announcement was pollster Sergio Bendixen, who discussed the impact these new Hispanic voters will have on the electoral demographics of their respective states. Earlier in the year, Bendixen predicted that the number of registered Hispanic voters in Pennsylvania will triple between 2006 and 2015. His analysis is available here.
In 2004, there were seven states with Hispanic populations numbering 1 million or higher. By 2015, projections estimate that there will be 10 states with Hispanic populations of 1 million or more. The states where DUSA established operations were determined to be places where there is significant Hispanic population growth, under-representation and a perceived lack of political access.
DUSA's objective of greater Hispanic political empowerment is achieved through voter registration, leadership training and non-partisan civic education. DUSA empowers Hispanics by increasing their participation in the electoral process and registering them as voters, educating them about the issues and candidates before them, and motivating them to vote on Election Day. DUSA develops Hispanic leaders across America by teaching important leadership skills that they can use to champion causes and issues for the benefit of their respective communities. And, DUSA promotes greater civic engagement by educating Hispanics on the American political process and encouraging them to participate within it as a means of improving their quality of life.
DUSA began in 2004 by successfully registering 72,000 new Hispanic voters in Florida. Its operation was expanded in early 2006. This year, DUSA also established www.democraciausa.org, which is considered the most interactive and informational bilingual web portal for Hispanics interested in becoming more civically engaged. The website is dedicated to informing and educating Hispanics on issues that matter to them and their families through real-time news and information in English and Spanish.