2022 Post Election Report
Post Election Report
Letter from the Executive Director
In 2022, CASA carried out the essential work of making our communities heard. We did not shout through the megaphone–we handed it over to black, brown, working-class, and immigrant communities to raise their voices together. Our critical civic engagement work within our communities took us across two of our core states, Maryland and Pennsylvania, where we empowered the people to protect their democracy, got out the vote, and turned the unheard into the unignorable.
We dove into two key ballot initiative campaigns in two different parts of Maryland, the largest such campaigns in those jurisdictions’ history—returning local control of the Baltimore police department to Baltimore City residents and protecting Howard County’s Liberty Act, which prohibits collecting and sharing residents’ immigration information with federal immigration authorities. CASA’s nonpartisan goal was to make sure that our members and their communities knew about these often overlooked parts of the ballot and understand that it was up to them to put their own values into practice. Through the support of our communities and the investment of our allies, CASA was able to raise $2.3 million for the execution of these campaigns. More importantly, our communities spoke definitively: the Liberty Act will remain the law, and Baltimore City is going to operate and control its own police department for the first time in 162 years.
In Pennsylvania, CASA engaged in a robust nonpartisan election program to assist voters in registering to vote, casting their ballots by mail, and making their voting plan, all in preparation of one of the most critical elections in the nation. We fought hard to make sure nothing stands in the way of our communities becoming a critical and expressive voting bloc in the state, whose wishes all of those in power must respect. In particular, CASA is proud that our efforts led directly to a major language access victory in York and Lancaster Counties, with the result that thousands of Spanish-speaking voters enjoyed access to ballots printed in the language they understand the best–and we’re not talking about in a future election, but in this very election.
Lydia Walther-Rodriguez, CASA’s new Chief of Organizing, told me something during these campaigns: “From voting rights to abortion, from living wages to health care, and from public safety to education, the participation of this nation’s immigrants and communities of color has never been more paramount for American democracy,” she said. “The CASA organizations dutifully sought to convey that message to voters, and urged them to advocate for a brighter future by making their voices heard at the polls.”
I couldn’t agree more. The people in power have gone on too long pretending that the people in our communities don’t exist. But they do exist, and in CASA’s nonpartisan campaigns they made it plain what they want: to defend what’s right, and to change what’s wrong.
Our Campaign by the Numbers
In Pennsylvania, CASA’s 25-person promoter team worked in the Latino and Afro-Latino communities of Dauphin, Lancaster, and York Counties. CASA reached 37,724 voters through a variety of modalities, including through door-to-door outreach, calls, texts, and through radio and online ads that resulted in more than 5,650,000 impressions. This final vote-by-mail and GOTV effort followed a voter registration program launched in the spring that registered 5,331 new voters. The Pennsylvania voter engagement program was nestled in a larger CASA campaign to ensure that voters had fair access to the ballot in the three counties going into the election, a push that included the filing of a historic language access lawsuit against York County settled just weeks before the election and resulting in access for voter to a Spanish/English bilingual ballot.
CASA’s nonpartisan electoral program implemented three main tactics as part of its strategy to get out the vote of Latinos in Pennsylvania. First, program staff targeted voters with messaging that focused on language access–as CASA knew from the primary election in May, access to voter materials in Spanish was limited. Its second focal point was voter identification, and ensuring that voters fully prepared when they went to vote. The third priority was sharing information about vote-by-mail and how voters could make sure their ballot was counted.
In March of this year, CASA had set the state for its civic engagement program with one of the deepest grassroots efforts in South Central PA history to ensure that the redistricting process would produce majority people of color districts. Together, CASA members produced a community map in Lancaster and York as an alternative to the commission maps. CASA members testified at the redistricting commission hearings. This deep work in local communities laid the stage for ongoing community engagement about the importance of political representation and voting.
After the maps were set, CASA then turned its focus to ensuring adequate access to the polls. CASA surveyed 4,790 voters, discovering that 770, almost half of whom were born and educated in Puerto Rico, encountered language barriers when attempting to vote because of a lack of Spanish-language educational materials and oral assistance at the point of voting. Lancaster County immediately committed to significant improvements in linguistic access.
In York County, negotiations fell apart, and in mid-October, CASA’s allies LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Dechert LLP filed a complaint in federal district court on behalf of CASA and voters of Puerto Rican origin against the Board of Elections in York County, Pennsylvania, for their failure to provide Spanish-language materials and assistance as required by specific provisions of the Voting Rights Act impacting voters educated in Puerto Rico.
Weeks before Election Day, York County settled the lawsuit with the plaintiffs by agreeing to significantly improve Spanish language-access for voters through the distribution of bilingual ballots, sample ballots, and polling location instructions, Spanish-speaking interpretation at the Board of Elections and at the top-twenty Spanish-speaking polling places in the City of York, and instituting training on language access rights for all election judges.