Program ran with particular focus on ballot drop boxes and language access for PA primary
YORK, PA – After completing a successful voter mobilization and election protection program in its footprint in South-Central Pennsylvania, immigrant advocacy organization CASA raises concerns about this year’s voters’ rights attacks in the primary. GOTV program staff and CASA members focused on registering, educating, and mobilizing working class Latinx voters in the cities of York, Lancaster, and Harrisburg in the primary election and advocated to ensure the voting process was as accessible as possible. During the five week program, CASA registered 430 new voters, knocked on 14,742 doors, made 24,396 phone calls, and sent 75,987 text messages to Latinx voters in central PA to educate them about their rights and encourage them to vote in the 2022 primary elections. The program sought to close the voter registration and voter participation gap between white voters and Latinx voters, a gap which is usually even wider during primary elections, by deploying field teams of voter promoters – Latinx voters themselves from Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York – to talk to their neighbors about voting.
Hey Pennsylvania 👋 it’s ELECTION DAY 🗳— CASA (@CASAforall) May 17, 2022
CASA promoters are out at the polls ensuring language access and a safe and easy voting experience for all.
Promoters Evelyn and Maleny say hi from York and Jose sends greetings from Lancaster!#primaryelection2022 #PennsylvaniaPrimary pic.twitter.com/Zjn3YTm6ui
Challenges faced by working class and Latinx voters included rapidly changing policies on ballot drop boxes in York and Lancaster counties, compounded by lack of communication with voters about the changes and lack of language access for the large Spanish-speaking voter population in both counties.
On Election Day, CASA’s field team responded to questions all day from voters whose mail in ballots were invalidated due to procedural errors inquiring about provisional ballots, to voters whose polling places had changed, to voters with questions about their rights to language assistance at the poll, ensuring that voters, especially those with limited English language ability, were able to vote on election day. After news broke in the morning that Lancaster County was unable to scan over 21,000 mail in ballots that had been received, CASA activated election protection resources to ensure that procedures would be in place to count every vote received.
“One of the reasons I became a U.S. citizen was to vote and participate in our democracy. And today I did it. The process can be intimidating, especially when English is not your first language. But I know my rights, and today nothing could stop me from raising my voice through my vote!” said Neura Beriguete, first-time voter from York.
When York County announced the scaling back of the use of mail-in ballot drop boxes, CASA rapidly responded, naming the move as an intentional effort to suppress voter participation. The GOTV program mobilized to place a letter to the editor in the York Dispatch regarding the scaling back of mail-in ballot drop boxes less than two weeks before the primary as well as creating updated ballot drop box FAQs. In Lancaster County, CASA members mobilized to show support for maintaining drop boxes as the issue was debated in court and later in front of the county commissioners.
“I was proud to cast my vote in the Pennsylvania primaries. I’m a working mother who takes her health concerns seriously. Voting by mail helps me to exercise my right in a safe manner, especially since I am not always able to make it to the polls on election day. Voting by mail made it easier for me to participate and to preserve my health. I appreciate all of the work CASA and others are doing to make sure every vote is counted,” said Maleny Delgado, mail-in ballot voter.
For years, CASA has been calling for changes that would improve the vote-by-mail process to make voting more convenient and easier to access for all. Suggested improvements include: extension of pre-canvassing to allow counties to begin processing ballots prior to Election Day; ensuring that all voter communications are available in both English and Spanish, establishing a better voter notification process to enable simple mistakes to be fixed; and offering multiple drop box locations to give everyone the opportunity to return their ballot in a timely fashion.
With over 122,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.