(WISCONSIN) – During the Wisconsin Spring Election, Voces de la Frontera Action (VDLFA) ran the state’s largest Latinx and multiracial youth voter engagement program which contributed to the historic victory of Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the defeat of Dan Kelly, the conservative candidate supported by former president Trump and other far-right extremists. In what has been the most expensive state supreme court race in United States history, Protasiewicz’s victory marks a significant turning point for the political landscape, shifting the balance of the court away from a conservative majority and setting the tone for the 2024 Presidential election.
VDLFA played a crucial role in Protasiewicz’s win as well as in other key local races. The secret to this electoral success was the relational voter network of family and friends known as Voceros por el Voto, a program launched in 2018. This election, our Voceros (member volunteers) used their personal networks to reach Latinx and youth voters in communities with the highest concentration of Latinxs statewide. Thanks to a combination of relational organizing, door-to-door canvassing, and phone banking in Milwaukee, Racine, Brown County, Waukesha, and Dane counties, VDFLA reached over 40,000 Latinxs and youth in just a matter of weeks.
With margins of victory at one percent or less in our state, the election results demonstrate that VDLFA’s grassroots community organizing was a deciding factor for Latinxs and young voters in Wisconsin. Many Latinx voters who are the foundation of our Voceros por el Voto network were first-time voters, either newly naturalized U.S. citizens or recently turned 18 year olds or vote infrequently.
One of those new voters is Yesenia Guereca, an 18-year-old Latina voter from Racine. She reflected after the elections: I proudly voted today for the first time for many reasons and because it’s important for young voters like me to not take our voting rights for granted.
I voted to make my voice heard, to speak up for those who don’t yet gave the right to vote and to honor those who fought and continue fighting for voting rights.
I feel good knowing my vote can help pass policies that will benefit not just me, but my community, and future generations as well.”
In response to the election results, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera Action said:
“With all eyes on Wisconsin, one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, the Latinx vote was critical in blocking escalating attacks on the freedom to vote which would have had consequences for decades for both the state and the country.
We have consistently heard from Latinx voters and those that help mobilize the Latinx vote that they are disenchanted with the political system as a whole and want elected officials who will prioritize and deliver on immigration justice. The Wisconsin Supreme Court race presented the opportunity to educate community members on the gerrymandering that has led to political apathy. Through relational organizing, we’ve empowered voters to take action against partisan maps and have been working to restore their faith in the democratic process. We’re taking back the power from far-right Republicans and restoring the will of the voters.”
Emily Firlinger, the Political Director of Voces de la Frontera Action said:
“Statewide our base organized to defeat Dan Kelly, a Trump-backed candidate supported by far-right extremists, who represented a grave threat to our families and communities. In contrast, we championed Janet Protasiewicz for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Protasiewicz proved her support for the issues that will affect communities of color the most, including a woman’s right to choose as well as combatting gerrymandering that impedes immigration reform at the state level.”
Statewide Voces de la Frontera ran our Election Protection program with over 100 trained volunteers in five regions. Our efforts ensured that Latinx voters with limited English and new to the process could cast their vote, in the areas we organized and experienced a strong showing in the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, where now 1 in 5 residents identifies as Latinx.
VDLFA additionally succeeded in protecting the positions of our pro-immigrant and working class champions in the following areas:
Milwaukee County: Sara Geenen for Court of Appeals – District 1;
Missy Zombor for Milwaukee Public School Board (at large); Erika Siemsen for Milwaukee Public School Board – District 2
Dane County: Satya Rhodes-Conway for Mayor of Madison; Julia Arata Fratta for Mayor of Fitchburg; Yannette Figueroa Cole Madison Common Council – District 10 Racine County: Cory Mason for Mayor of Racine
Brown County: Eric Genrich for Mayor of Green Bay