Latino voice ignored by AZ Redistricting Commission
11th Aug 2021
Latinos make up about a quarter of Arizona’s eligible voters – and growing. Latinos also make up nearly a third of the state’s population – and growing. And yet there is no Latino representation on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
These were among the points I made at the Commission’s Public Meeting Listening Tour in Mesa on Monday. I also noted the recurring theme among Latino speakers calling for more public hearings in Latino communities so more Latinos can voice the importance of protecting such “communities of interest.”
There have been no such meetings in South Phoenix, Maryvale, Leveen or other heavily Latino-concentrated areas. There has been no Community Outreach Coordinator dedicated to this work. The Commission is relying heavily on online comment and input, even though the Digital Divide disproportionately impacts Latinos, many of whom are without home internet and home computers.
I also pointed out that the Commission has not held public hearings on Racially Polarized Voting, where Latino voters are pitted against often conflicting or contrasting constituencies to dilute the Latino vote. And there has been no public hearings on Latino Minority Districts, although there has been one for Native Americans.
I noted to the Commission that if there were zero White representation on the Commission, there would be cause for concern – and rightfully so. In formal testimony, I said the Commission has a long ways to go before I had any confidence that the Latino vote is being protected or that Latinos are being heard about district boundaries being drawn and will affect election outcomes for the next 10 years.
I have not received any response or update. As of now, Monday’s meeting was the last scheduled public hearing on communities of interest, which is disappointing since the end result may be Latino voices being squelched and Latino votes been squashed.
Voter suppression comes in many forms and fashion. Ignoring Latino voices in the voter redistricting process is yet another one.
Joseph Garcia is Executive Director of CPLC Action Fund. He also is Vice President of Public Policy at Chicanos Por La Causa.