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Latinos Are Expected To Make A Huge Impact During The 2018 Midterm Elections

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There is no doubt that Latinos will make an impact during the 2018 midterm elections whether it’s at the polling booth or running for office. Latinos are America’s largest minority group, surpassing black people as a percentage of the population, and statistics show they tend to vote Democrat. According to the Pew Research Center, over 29 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in 2018 and make up 12.8 percent of all eligible voters, which are both new highs. But what does this really mean if more than half of Latinos don’t go out and vote?

The Latino voter turnout rate in midterm elections has declined since 2006 reaching a record low of 27 percent in 2014. 

During the last midterm cycle in 2014, Latinos didn’t make much of an impact at the polls as there was only a 27 percent voter turnout rate, which was a record low. Dan Sena, Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), hopes that 2014 was a learning lesson for Democrats that showed Latinos need more than just likable candidates to go out in vote.

“What we saw in the previous midterms was a lack on engagement on behalf of voters that may have been due to several factors including building relationships with Latino voters,” Sena says. “It may not have been a priority in the past but this time around we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The DCCC is hoping to energize Latinos this year and not only get them vote but get them engaged in the political process.

The DCCC has put $30 million behind TV ads, mailing info and door to door campaigning in hopes of energizing Latinos and young voters to come to the polls. Their digital ads, which are Spanish language, have aired on Univision, Telemundo and other stations in eight large media markets including New Mexico and Texas. Sena says the organization began its campaign five days after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Sena feels that young voters will play a crucial part in whether Democrats can win back the house.

“Latino voters are looking to connect with Democratic candidates that stand on issues like affordable healthcare, education and jobs,” Sena explained. “We have spoken to many Latino families and these issues are a priority in many of their households.”

He feels that one of the biggest misconstructions of Latinos is that they don’t vote in as big numbers as other groups. Yet Latino voter engagement is one of the lowest among all minority groups in the United States. Sena says by getting to build these one on on relationships with Latino voters, the DCCC is getting to know what issues really matter to them.

According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos are more engaged in the 2018 midterms than prior elections.

According to The Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Latino registered voters say they have given the coming November midterm elections “quite a lot” of thought. That is a 16 percentage point increase from what they said about the last midterms in 2014. With that in mind, the DCCC hopes that interest will lead to votes on November 6. The DCCC has targeted 111 House districts this year which includes 29 where at least 10 percent of the eligible voters are Latinos. The hopes are that these votes lead to gaining at least 23 House seats and the majority in the House, currently controlled by the GOP.

Javier Gamboa, a spokesman for the DCCC, says that the organization has conducted a number of focus groups across the country, focusing on Latino voters who usually skip midterm elections, and have launched digital on real issues that affect hardworking Latino families.

“Our mission is to engage voters on issues that they care about and remind them of the power of their vote,” Gamboa says. “With all the backing and money we’ve put fourth, it will be Latinos that will be essential in flipping the House.”

Who are Latinos excited about in the 2018 midterms?

Sena says that this election cycle has seen some of the highest Latino participation than in recent memory and there has already been a great turnout when it comes to mail-in ballots. He says that candidates like Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico, Gil Cisneros in California and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida are in tight races. Latinos can make a huge impact with their vote in these key races, according to Sena.

The DCCC’s TV ads will be airing in these districts but what makes these commercials different then your usual political ad is that they’re not designated for that local area. The ads touch on values that are important to the Latino household like health, family and jobs that aren’t specific to one state but the entire Latino vote.

“Our battlefield is big and diverse. We got an amazing young crop of candidates because there is a desire for change,” Sena says. “People are asking who’s going to share our values and our concerns. This election is a chance for Latinos to go out and make their voices not only heard but make them count.”


READ: From Governorships To Congress, These Latinos Want To Lead The Country With Their Community In Mind

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Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

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Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

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Ahead of her scheduled appearance on the Rachel Maddow show, Kamala Harris made a huge announcement on Thursday. The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and former District Attorney said that if she wins the White House, she wants to invest $1 billion to eliminate the rape kit backlog nationwide. 

Kamala Harris’ plan is the “first of its kind of a 2020 Democratic candidate, the California Democrat’s plan would invest the money into states, allowing them to close their rape kit backlogs and prevent further buildups, within her first term” if elected into the Oval Office, according to CNN

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted that her plan to close the nationwide rape kit backlog “would cost about $2 million less each year than what taxpayers have spent on Trump’s golf trips.” 

According to CNN, “the campaign linked this rollout to the news of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire indicted this week on charges of sex trafficking and sexually assaulting teenage girls.” Earlier this week, when news broke, Harris also called for U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta –– who served as Miami U.S. Attorney and cut the plea deal for Epstein –– to resign. 

“It’s time we had someone in the White House who is committed to fighting for survivors, not protecting predators,” she tweeted.  

According to END THE BACKLOG, a national non-profit organization founded by actress and activist Mariska Hargitay with the mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, “every 92 seconds, someone is assaulted in the United States.” 

END THE BACKLOG also reports that it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in the police department and crime lab storage facilities across the country. This is what’s known as the rape kit backlog. But since most jurisdictions do not have systems in place for counting or tracking rape kits tested, END THE BACKLOG says “we cannot be sure of the total number of untested rape kits nationwide.” 

Rape kits are used by medical professionals to collect evidence while they examine survivors of sexual assault. The DNA extracted from rape kits is a useful tool to solve and prevent sexual assault crimes as well. Refinery29 reports that in the past decade, “about 225,000 known untested rape kits have been uncovered.” 

And while a growing number of states across the U.S. are fighting toward ending the backlog, there’s more work to be done. Since it costs an average $1,000 to $1,500 to test one rape kit, Harris’ plan to invest $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide would hopefully make a powerful difference.  

In a statement to CNN, Harris said, “The federal government can and should prioritize justice for survivors of sex abuse, assault, and rape. As California’s Attorney General, I committed resources and attention to clearing a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits at state-run labs, and we got it done within my first year in office. We need the same focus at the nationwide level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable.” 

She also took to Instagram to announce her proposal of investing $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide. In her caption, she wrote:

“In the last decade, roughly 225,000 untested rape kits have been uncovered. Too many survivors aren’t getting the justice they deserve. As president, I will close the nationwide rape kit backlog by the end of my first term.” 

According to USA Today, Harris’ proposal “states would receive additional funding for testing if they conduct an annual count and report of untested rape kits. The plan also would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits ‘within a short time frame,’ update victims who want to know about the status of testing of their rape kits and would increase the availability of rape kits for law enforcement, particularly in remote and rural areas.”  

CNN also interviewed RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said that Harris’ new proposal “would do wonders for ongoing efforts.”

“The backlog has been a huge and ongoing problem, we’ve been making progress on it over time, but having that large of a federal commitment would do wonders for testing the rest of the cases that haven’t been tested yet,” he said. 

“From the survivors’ standpoints, these kits are the result of really long, really unpleasant rape examinations where soon after the assaults, they are poked and prodded and they gather everything from the victim’s body and the clothing. It’s the last thing anyone wants to go through and to put yourself that and not have evidence even tested is a terrible statement and demoralizing,” he adds. 

Many women on social media were also open about how necessary and overdue this investment on the rape kit backlog would be. 

A Majority-Latino School District Is Choosing Between Two White Women For School Board In Los Angeles

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A Majority-Latino School District Is Choosing Between Two White Women For School Board In Los Angeles

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Voters in LA have a little-known election on May 14 that is proving to be another case of underrepresentation of communities of color.

Board District 5 of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is having a special election to replace a former board member who resigned due to corruption charges. Voters in this runoff election will have to decide between two white candidates in a district where 8 in 10 residents are people of color and nearly 90 percent of enrolled students are Latino.

The LAUSD Board will be largely white even though most students are Latino.

The election is occurring in Board District 5 which makes up LA’s lower-income Latino-majority cities. These cities include Maywood, Huntington Park, Cudahy, and South Gate along with the rapidly gentrifying communities of Los Feliz, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, and Silver Lake.

Many voters in the district know want they want in a board member. They want someone who will make the superintendent work harder and who will visit local schools more frequently. Yet, for the heavily Latino district, many also want to see someone who looks like us sitting on the board. They want someone who better understands the needs of the community because they are from the same community.

Unfortunately, that won’t be an option in Tuesday’s election.

Board District 5 is quintessential Los Angeles.

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L.A.’s Board District 5 closely mirrors the demographics of L.A. as a whole. More than a quarter of students are classified as English learners, more than 85 percent live in low-income households, and an estimated 2,000 are homeless.

However, Board District 5 topped LAUSD as a whole last year with its graduation rate of 83 percent, compared with 76.6 percent for all other schools. One reason for the higher graduation rates could be that there are a number of community organizations and Latino advocacy groups who partner with local high schools to help students go on to college.

Latinos not being represented is nothing new in politics, even on the local L.A. level.

People are fed up and letting themselves be heard on social media. With Tuesday’s turnout expected to be low (roughly just 10-20 percent of eligible voters), it’s so important that Latinos and all people of color make their voices heard so that we can finally see ourselves represented in all levels of government.

READ: LAUSD Just Made It Harder For ICE To Walk Onto Their School Campuses

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