NYIC Report on Immigrants Vote 2012 Civic Engagement Campaign
new york immigration coalition Immigrants Vote! 2012 Campaign Report
T he New York Immigration Coalition is proud to have coordinated a powerful and effective statewide civic participation campaign in 2012. Since starting civic engagement programs in 1998, NYICmembers have been able to register over 300,000 New Americans to vote; tocontact close to 1 million voters through personal interactions, educational,and outreach materials; and enrich civic culture within diverse immigrantcommunities.The NYIC’s civic participation program was founded on the premise thatimmigrant communities cannot effectively protect their interests until theybecome a force at the ballot box. Since its inception, campaign partners haveutilized this multi-faceted non-partisan initiative to break through the racketof electoral politics and inform immigrant communities of their rights and theissues affecting all New Yorkers. Each year, NYIC members and partners fanout across their communities and talk to thousands of their neighbors abouttheir work, in the process recruiting new members and raising their profiles astrusted community resources.We are pleased to report that due to the incredible commitment of our membersand partners, we have successfully exceeded our projected goals for the 2012election cycle with over 11,000 New Americans registered to vote and over42,000 voters contacted through the campaign, 12,000 more than we originallythought possible!In addition to the tangible numbers, we were able to deepen partner civicengagement programs and help augment the leadership of our participantgroups in their communities. The Immigrants Vote! 2012 Campaign energized theimmigrant community with its focus of multi-ethnic, collaborative empowermentof the varied immigrant communities of New York.The NYIC remains grateful for the support of our funders and other supporters,without whom this important work would not have been done in 2012, adverselyaffecting thousands of New Americans and aspiring citizens in New York.This report reflects just one program of the incredible and varied work done byNew York Immigration Coalition members in 2012. It is through the collaborativeefforts of the over 200 members of the Coalition that New York’s immigrant ...registered 300,000 Newcommunities are able to have the information and access to influence local,state, and national policy and advocate for a better New York for all. American voters since 1998...
CAMPAIGN STRUCTURE “The immigrant voice is pivotal in New The Immigrants Vote! 2012 campaign was struc- tured along a hub model developed by the NYIC York and it is our collective responsibility over the last 12 years. Each partner group made a to empower our communities during the commitment to a specific outreach goal prior to the general election along with events, trainings, and election process.” voter registration activities. The NYIC provided fi- nancial support, access to the State Voices table Almirca Santiago and Voter Activation Network data-management Director of Programs and Development software, individualized campaign planning and Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights campaign management support, online coordina- tion, a library of resources, and volunteer support. The 10 groups recruited for the campaign repre- LOCAL, REGIONAL, AND NATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS sented a wealth of geographic, and language diver- The NYIC works with the New York State Civic Engagement Table, sity and an ability to deliver results. a collaborative effort of 501c3 organizations in New York State, as a founding steering committee member. Through the Table we were In addition to NYIC staff – Chung-Wha Hong, ex- able to provide partner groups with access to the Voter Activationecutive director and Karen Kaminsky, deputy executive director– prior staff Network (VAN), voter lists, outreach tools, as well as technical assis-and consultants who specialized in electoral and tance and training from table staff.outreach work were brought on-board to help co-ordinate the participant organizations.To develop a The NYIC’s National partnership with the Center for Communitycohesive structure, throughout the campaign sea- Change brought the Campaign much valued technical supportson partner groups had coordination meetings with from their National Electoral Staff, coordination with other Na-NYIC staff and consultants to strategize, share in- tional and Regional partners, along with valuable coordinationformation, and discuss successes and challenges. tools and online reporting mechanisms. Conferences sponsoredIn this way the campaign was able to create a high by Four Freedoms Fund, National Partnership for New Ameri-quality, coordinated, sophisticated voter outreach cans, and Fair Immigration Reform Movement brought neededstrategy to maximize its impact. information and knowledge exchange with groups throughout the country engaged in similar work.VOTER REGISTRATIONThe NYIC has led the oldest courthouse-based im- WWW.WHOISONTHEBALLOT.ORGmigrant voter registration project in the country since 1998. During the last 14 Who’s on the Ballot is a not-for profit project of the School of Inter-years, NYIC partners registered over 300,000 New Americans to vote at natu- national and Public Affairs at Columbia University. www.whosonthe-ralization swearing in ceremonies, pioneering the courthouse method that ballot.org is an easy to use website and mobile app that provideshas been taken up by groups around the country. This volunteer run effort NYC residents with the location of polling places, information onhas continued to be the most effective method of registering large numbers candidates, sample ballots, and voter registration information. Theof New Americans at one time, on average registering 150 people a day in a project is based on the fact that the moreyearlong, ongoing effort. informed we are, the more likely we are to participate in elections. The mission is to In 2012, partner groups Minkwon provide voters with the tools they need to Center for Community Action and La make an informed choice on Election Day. Fuente took the lead in providing vol- Who’s on the Ballot is guided by a group of unteers for voter registration in the leaders in the non-profit, business, and city court, delivering the majority of NYIC government communities. voter registration numbers. Their com- mitment, with strong support from Project Director and Columbia Professor the NYIC and other partner groups, Esther Fuchs worked closely with the NYIC has allowed the campaign to register throughout the election season, bringing in 11,520 New American voters in 2012 Pilobolus, a performance crew with a mis- and pass the 300,000 registered voter sion to engage voters, and helping thou- mark for the program! sands of people find information to inform their vote.
“...immigrants face the language barrier, which complicatesevery aspect of voter participation and overall civic awareness...to have our voices be heard, we must work doubly hard toimprove registration and turnout rates in our communities.” Steven Choi, Executive Director, MinKwon Center for Community Action VOTER OUTREACH New York based groups have a ‘target-rich’ geography for immigrant voter outreach. This environment allows NYIC partner groups to focus on parts of the immigrant community not ordinarily contacted by campaigns. Since 2006, the NYIC has encouraged partner groups to target newly registered and sporadic voters in their communities, also cross-targeted by language and geography.Comparison of Trainings to Events Held During Campaign Data has repeatedly shown that immigrant service groups are the most trusted messengers in their communities, frequently breaking through the electoral din to get the message out to their neighbors and educate voters about the issues. (Gerber & Green, GOTV) Knowing that, partner groups were able to maximize their volunteer time and focus their contacts on increasing the voter base in their communities and building immigrant voter power through education and direct ballot box impact. NYIC partners were able to ensure that door-to-door outreach, mailings, and phone banking efforts were language specific, and led primarily by bilingual volunteers. Volunteer and paid staff hours during the campaign. Partner groups conducted outreach in 12 languages, including in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Nepali, and Spanish among other languages and dialects familiar to campaign volunteers. Partners were able to reach thousands more at community events throughout New York, through press coverage, and by holding 62 events and 74 trainings around the counties of focus. Because NYIC electoral efforts are built on over a decade of best practice knowledge, we were able to have immediate impact by using a 3-contact model with door, phone, and mail contacts supplementing each other for maximum impact. The program continues to have incredible success in building the pipeline of civic engagement, which develops member groups into civic engagement powerhouses who are able to take the knowledge and experience learned during non-partisan electoral outreach and apply it to their policy and service goals in order to benefit Breakdown of all contacts by contact method and empower their communities.
IMMIGRANTS VOTE! 2012 CAMPAIGN RESULTS CAMPAIGN IMPACTIn 2012, while the NYIC’s civic engagement efforts took a necessary electoral Registered 11,520 New Americans to Votefocus, the level of success was clearly the result of long-term engagement effortsundertaken by the NYIC and partner groups over the last decade. By focusingon building the capacity of groups, providing education, and connecting them Made 142,334 Contacts with 42,531 votersto technology, the NYIC is able to tap into a highly effective network of partnerscommitted to civic engagement year-round, and amplify their efforts during this Recruited 643 Volunteers and 367 Part-Time Staffimportant election year. Logged 13,957 volunteer and staff hoursThe civic engagement pipeline that the NYIC has been developing is a multi stepeffort that begins with advocacy for immigrants regardless of status, moves on to Held 74 trainings and 62 events.naturalization support services, connects to voter registration efforts, and buildsinto voter engagement efforts, which connect back to post-election advocacy Sponsored 3 Candidate and Community Forumson issues affecting New York’s immigrant communities.In recognizing long-term capacity-building goals beyond the numbers-orientedvoter outreach cycle, the NYIC collaborates with a wide variety of groupswho work in dozens of different communities in New York not yet individuallyrepresented or visible on the political spectrum, including Russian-speakingCentral Asian communities in Queens, Nepali pockets in Jackson Heights, The 10 ImmigrantsArab-Americans in Bay Ridge, and numerous African communities on Staten Vote! 2012 CampaignIsland. The partner groups represented in the Immigrants Vote! 2012 Campaign partners, conductedfrequently had the only inroads into these smaller, underrepresented, emergingimmigrant community groups, many of whom were able to know the issues and campaign activitiesmake an informed vote, often for the first time, due to the work of NYIC partners in 11 communities,on the ground. speaking 12 differentThis unprecedented level of language coordination led to excellent experiences languages, inby volunteers and an incredible impact on those voters who never before had Brooklyn, Queens,a chance to get politically involved in their native tongue. The response from Bronx, Manhattan,community members was tremendous, and led to higher profiles and morerecognition for partner groups in their communities. Staten Island, Rockland, Putnam,The 2012 Immigrants Vote! Campaign was able to activate far-flung immigrant Westchester, Nassau,communities, build strength, inform voters on the issues, and create a sense of and Dutchesspower in the New American voting bloc. Counties
Arab American Association of New York * text taken from group final report. edited for length.The Arab American Association of New revelation allowed us to act fast and recruit Ur- The audience was very diverse, which displayed the trueYork is the only advocacy organization du- speaking volunteers. Of the thirty five core ‐ power of the local Arab American immigrant community.serving, empowering and engaging the volunteers, at least 7 of them were South Asian Hurricane Sandy hit New York City one week before elec-Arab American community of New York to ensure that these voters were able to ac- tions and that delayed much of the work and for some de-City in electoral politics. We focused cess the critical voter information that we had creased the amount of electoral work they were planningour campaign in Southwest Brook- available. to implement. We were very fortunate at the Arab Ameri-lyn, which includes Sunset Park, Bay can Association of New York to continue to do our workRidge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst We facilitated 5 workshops of 50 people at as planned. Obviously we knew that many of those af-neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Southwest two local Islamic institutions.These work- fected would be preoccupied with Hurricane Sandy so weBrooklyn is the most highly concentrat- shops provided critical information about the edited our phone scripts. Our scripts were an opportunityed Arab American community in the en- importance of voting and the electronic ballot for us to ask people how they were doing, assess theirtire state of New York. We reached over process. These workshops were for many the needs and use the call to remind voters about upcoming6500 people through mailers, phone first time they participated in an informed dis- elections. Voters were more likely to continue conversa-calls and canvassing. We also organ- cussion on the electoral process. On average, tion after responding to questions about their wellbeingized a civic engagement street team approximately 40% of those who identified post Sandy.made up of high school and college age themselves as registered voters also said theystudents. would vote in 2012 for the first time. Two days after Sandy on Halloween, AAANY resumed with an event that was planned before the Hurricane,AAANY conducted four trainings that “Trick or Vote”. Volunteers came wearing costumes andfocused on GOTV strategies. Each The Arab American Association of New made calls to voters. During this one evening, AAANYtraining had 15 people in attendance. York organized a Candidate’s Forum at made over 550 calls with 20 volunteers. Volunteers alsoWe had over 35 volunteers who recruit- labeled the second wave of mailers that were mailed out Public School 170. All candidates run-ed other volunteers, aggregated lists of the next day. During the last 4 weeks before elections,Middle Eastern voters, made the calls ning for State Senate, and two local As- volunteers would choose one of 3 to four shifts to knockand joined teams to knock on doors. sembly races attended the event. Ap- on doors. Teams of two were sent out for 3- our shifts hAs we were making calls through the proximately 250 local residents attended with walking lists obtained through VAN. Volunteers woreVoter Activation Network we noticed this event. badges that identified them as volunteers with the AAANYthat many of those who were catego- and included our phone number. AAANY knocked on ap-rized as Arab American due to their proximately 2800 doors of Arab, Asian, and Latino voters.surnames were in fact South Asian.This
Hudson Valley Community Coalition and the Westchester Hispanic CoalitionOur campaign got off to a strong start when we hired Just when we were really building up the * text taken from group final report. edited for length.Jonathan Stribling-Uss,. Jonathan recently graduated team momentum, Hurricane Sandy struckfrom CUNY Law, is bilingual Spanish/English and had and completely changed our focus. Townsa lot of great organizing and field work experience. in Westchester, Rockland and southernPlus he was from the Hudson Valley, raised in Monroe, Putnam counties were placed under a state ofOrange County. Jonathan worked with our Director emergency because of countless fallen treesof Community Organizing, Norma Pereira-Mora, to that tore down power lines and blocked roads.recruit a team of volunteers. The volunteer stipends Several of our team were without heat and hotwere a big help in getting commitments from people water for eight, nine and ten days, and withto work the whole campaign. our schools shut down as well, parents had to miss work to take care of kids and other neighbors too. Several others joined up withThe ages ran from 17 year old student Paula other community groups’ relief efforts aroundMora, to retired postal service employee the affected areas, helping out wherever andSteve Glusker. While Jonathan and Norma however they could.were putting together the team, our partnersat Westchester Hispanic Coalition registered Election day arrived, with power still out inover 1,000 new voters, enabling them to vote most places in Westchester and Putnam Counties. Our team was determined to finishin time for the November elections. the campaign strong. Graciela Heymann, the director of Westchester Hispanic Coalition, offered her entire office space and all her staff toWe ran our first GOTV Volunteer Training in early make calls on election day. With the recruiting 2012 CampaignOctober. Jonathan put together this initial workshop, efforts of Wiliam Méndez, Walfre Martinez Hudson Valley Community Coalition/Westchester Hispan ic Coalition Immigrants Vote!which we held at the Westchester offices of our Member Profile: Campaign Volunteer/Team and Lorna Leiva, who brought in four morepartners, Neighbors Link of Mt. Kisco and the Elias York Lorna Leiva, Carmel, New volunteers, we launched an all-out effort to GetFoundation. Most team members hadn’t participated Out the Vote on November 6th. We ordered ain a GOTV effort before. One person who came to dozen pizza pies for lunch, kept making phonethe initial training, did not take part in the rest of the calls, and then sent out teams of canvassers tocampaign. At the wrap-up celebration, he confessed hit the streets of White Plains. Photo: Lorna connecting with new voters. year old daughter Zoe. She was born in Costa Rica andthat it was just too painful to take part in another l, New York with her 11 by her friend and our Lorna Leiva lives in Carme recruited to the campaign y as a hairdresser. She was works in Westchester Countcampaign, after working so hard on trying to get CIR izing, Norma Pereir a-Mora. Director of Community Organ We worked into the late evening, finally calling a huge number of team. She personally called est campaigners on ourpassed in 2010, but coming up short. Lorna was one of the strong Vote Campaign.” was her first “Get Out the d other volunteers. This it a night after 9:30 p.m. We had made 3,700 voters, and she also traine , and we were all on the ly. “I met different people ence,” Lorna said recent “It was a wonderful experi phone calls! We wrapped up the campaign a fantastic.” was great. The energy was determined. The feeling same page. We were soAt the initial training, we shared the campaign goals, few weeks later, with a potluck celebration and Before joining the campa ign, Lorna hadn’t planne d on voting. When she was get involved past that. One younger, she would take afternoon in September she ran into atalked about how to run a nonpartisan GOTV effort, debrief. Almost all the feedback was positive, her Grand ma to vote. But she didn’t friend in the A&P grocer y.. He said to her, “You gotta vote. I know you’ve been that conversation struck disappointed in the past, her. “It was done for meand also did a lot of role plays. Throughout the month nce.” Something in if she wanted to join the but your vote makes a differe called a few days later, asking with members feeling great about being a part involved. When Norma then.” She decided to getof October, we organized training at different locations and willing. campaign, she was ready of a team, and about knowing that they made an working as part of a the campaign. She liked asked her to be a part ofthroughout the area. Organizing in the Hudson Valley Lorna is grateful that Norma other advice, and encou raged each other. team members gave each impact on the people they connected with. Two team. She enjoyed how red Italian -Americanis always a challenge due to the geography: getting calls was to a newly registe communicator. One of her vote for anyone. He asked Lorna who Lorna is a very effective members who didn’t take part in the campaign motivation to go out and voter. He had no idea who to vote for, or but that he should just followanywhere requires wheels and takes time. One ’t tell him who to vote for, told him that she couldn ced me Seňora.” he should vote for. She (but had attended the initial training) were sorry “Well thank you. I think you convin the conversation, he said, his heart. At the end ofevening we used the offices of Bedford Presbyterian to not participate, but said that they looked Submitted by:Church to call voters. Another evening, Norma opened forward to joining the efforts in 2013. (These Betsy Palmieriher home to the team. When we canvassed door-to- Executive Director Coalition Hudson Valley Community two members also recruited several youngdoor in Brewster, my stepdad John Hagedorn let us people who did take part in the campaign.) Itoccupy his house as our “home base.” was a fun celebration and we all felt energized for the next campaign in 2013.
New Immigrant Community Empowerment and Queens Community House“This was my first time knocking on doors in this country and I * text taken from group final report. edited for length.found it to be an amazing experience. In general, people received Engagement Coordinator, designedus well and I discovered that while it may take longer or be more and implemented a curriculum to trainwork to knock on each door one by one, it is definitely a more pro- volunteers how to knock doors and talk aboutductive and efficient way to reach people. It gave us the opportu- the elections. Between five separate trainingsnity to explain on a personal level the importance of getting out to held by the staff in three different languages,vote and representing the local immigrant community.” all of the fifty-six volunteers received training. Luz Marina, volunteer Overall, volunteers took pride in ensuring all voters had the opportunity to use their vote.This year, NICE and QCH jointly participated in Concerned that two different homeboundthe Immigrants Vote! Campaign. The collaboration elders would be unable to get to the polls on their own,allowed us to expand our individual reach within two QCH volunteers took the initiative to investigateNorthwest Queens and to activate immigrant voters transportation options for them on Election Day.of Latino, South Asian and Asian backgrounds.Together, we engaged over 70 community members NICE members framed the work as ensuring that theirthrough basic civic workshops, sent out 3,613 GOTV interests were heard on Election Day. They educatedpostcards, made 1000 phone calls and knocked on each other on what was at stake and how as non-voters993 doors reaching 1,388 registered voters in the they were having a say in making this country better. Forneighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and QCH members, many of whom are students in an ESOLCorona. program, it was also an opportunity to gain much-needed work experience and for many who are new to the country,Starting in September 2012, the Civic Engagement a chance to gain hands-on understanding of not only USCoordinator implemented a series of civics workshops civics but also their local community.to inform new immigrants about the structures ofgovernment at the federal, state and local level.The workshops also covered which seats were up Because NICE and QCH serve a diverse cross-sectionfor election and which candidates were running for of the local community, one of the most importantoffice in the upcoming elections. parts of the collaboration was bringing together volunteers across linguistic and cultural barriers withThey included which levels of government are a common goal. On each of the three door knockingresponsible for different issues, such as immigration days, volunteers, speaking Spanish, Bengali, Urdureform, police enforcement, schools, healthcare, and Hindi, came together for an opening trainingpublic space, and services; seventy community review and then set out in teams based on their nativemembers participated in two workshops held at language(s). In neighborhoods as ethnically diverseQueens Community House and one at NICE. Many as Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, this wasof the participants were not aware of the upcoming an important opportunity to highlight our commonelections, and were eager to participate. struggle as immigrant New Yorkers and together, rally the community around issues of deep importance to all.Staff reached out to the base of both organizations andother members of the community of Jackson Heightsto inform them about the GOTV campaign. They The Immigrants Vote! campaign proved rewarding formade thirteen presentations about the campaign to volunteers and for the organizations. Our efforts wereover one hundred and thirty community members in validated on election night once returns were reported andESOL classes, organizer and member meetings and at showed immigrants turned out to vote in full force. We lookother community events. As a result of these efforts, forward to joining forces with the coalition and its membersthey were able to recruit and train fifty-six volunteers again in the coming year to ensure immigrant voices areto assist with work on the campaign. The Civic strongly represented in the New York City elections.
Minkwon Center for Community Action * text taken from group final report. edited for length.In 2012, the MinKwon Center for CommunityAction announced its largest votermobilization and registration drive ever tocontact 2,000 households in-person and tophone-bank over 7,000 voters as part of its“Vote 2012: Your Voice, Your Vote” Campaign.This joint campaign, with the New YorkImmigration Coalition, worked to bolsterawareness among voters, particularly torecent immigrants and limited-English-proficient persons in Queens for the 2012 As part of the Campaign, the MinKwon Center conducted phone banking and door knockingPrimary and General Elections. around Flushing ahead of the Election. At each household, staff and volunteers canvassed the community and distributed multilingual literature. The literature, translated into both Korean and Chinese, had photos of all the candidates who were running for elections in theUsing a new 2012 Voter Guide, a voter area, as well as various voting help resources. Community residents responded positively toregistration drive, and intensive get-out-the- receiving this basic information; in fact, most people canvassed did not even know who wasvote efforts, MinKwon Center’s “Vote 2012: running to represent their districts. Our scripts posed questions that made voters think aboutYour Voice, Your Vote” Campaign featured who was on the ballot and what was at stake for them in these elections.a comprehensive set of voter initiatives –voter registration, education, protection For 2012, the MinKwon Center also debuted a new “Voter Pledge” Postcard Campaign. For thisand mobilization – designed to fully engage pcampaign, the MinKwon Center asked voters to sign a form pledging to vote on November 6th.voters in the 2012 elections. A week before the elections, MinKwon Center mailed back over 600 postcards “When I first started door knocking, I was really nervous.The MinKwon Center took the lead in to those voters, reminding them to vote. However, the more I did it, the more I began to enjoy it. Oneregistering new immigrant voters with the The pledge cards were translated into of my most memorable door knocking experiences was on Hal-NYIC at its new citizen registration initiatives Korean, Chinese, and several South Asian loween.at the Federal Courthouse. Every week, languages. In addition, the postcardsthe MinKwon Center coordinates volunteer feature important resources, such as the Many residents in the area were at home because of Hurri-teams to the courthouse to register all the Board of Elections hotline and various cane Sandy that had just passed through a few days ago. Wenewly naturalized citizens. In addition to internet pages to look up polling location were only 6 days away from Election Day and it was crucialvoter registration, volunteers also educate and voter status. In helping to conduct that we disseminated as much information as possible. It wasnew citizens at the courthouse about the street outreach, phone-banking, and a really great experience because people were so kind whenmany different facets of voting, including they opened the door to us, expecting us to be trick-or-treaters. door-knocking efforts, youth volunteers One resident was particularly receptive to talk to us. She glad-where to vote and what it means to enroll in were able to develop critical analysis ly answered all the questions on our survey and was exciteda political party. skills in addition to their leadership skills. about being able to vote.In order to increase capacity to reach more With the City Council lines being redrawn From this experience, I learned that door knocking is one ofvoters ahead of the elections, MinKwon now, the Minkwon Center is looking the most intimate and effective ways to reach a voter. It wasCenter mobilized community members, forward to working with the NYIC again great to know that I definitely had a positive impact on theyouth, volunteers, and other program staff to to make an even greater impact in the democratic process.”strengthen electoral engagement work. critical 2013 New York City elections. Kanupriya Pandey, Volunteer
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights Manhattan and Bronx community. * text taken from group final report. edited for length. Through our organizing meetings, citizenship classes, and previous GOTV campaigns, we have participants who have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and those with the desire to develop them. We hired twenty-four bi-lingual individuals from the community, of ages ranging from sixteen – sixty, to focus on spreading the message on the importance of voting for their leaders and holding our presidential candidates accountable to the Latino and immigrant community.Many of our canvassers learned what it truly means to be an active participant in theirSince the fall of 2006, Northern Manhattan communities. They learned about itCoalition for Immigrant Rights has managed through the process of performing this By Election Day, November 6, 2012, NMCIRGOTV campaigns in partnership with type of outreach as well as from the and the exceptional team of canvassers/the NYIC with the goal of increasing the people they were able to and unable callers made 16,974 contacts to a list of 4,905community’s awareness of the importance to engage. registered voters.of civic participation as communitymembers, lawful permanent residents, and NMCIR planned to send out a second mailingU.S. citizens; as well as to increase the One of our veteran callers, Rosa during the week before Election Day butnumber of Latino registered voters in both M. Rodriguez, who was also a first was not able to. The effects of HurricaneNorthern Manhattan and the Bronx. time canvasser, felt more inspiration Sandy were not physically devastating in the as the days went by because of Northern Manhattan area, but the effect it hadWith 2012 being a presidential election the community’s response to the on the rest of the city was destructive enoughyear, we were focused on ensuring that campaign. She quickly learned to derail us for a few days.the Latino and immigrant presence and that door-knocking was her favoritepower was felt. During 2008, President form of outreach because of the Overall, the Immigrants Vote! 2012 CampaignObama made a campaign promise that connections she was able to make was successful and exciting. We alwayscomprehensive immigration would occur with the community, both registered hope to have more than a few weeks to planduring the first year. After dealing with a voters and unregistered voters, their and strategize for the upcoming GOTV cycledifficult political landscape over the past feedback and desire to become but the support we received from the NYICfour years, we felt it was important for all involved in things that affect their and partner organizations made it easiercandidates involved to be fully aware of the community. to manage. The meetings leading to thepower of the Latino vote. The only way we campaign and mid way through truly helpedcould do that was by mounting a very strong in addressing any questions or concerns weeffort to encourage Latinos and immigrants In general, the canvassers (door- may have had throughout the planning and/orof the area we serve. knocking) experience was a more execution process. The sharing of documents positive one even if the registered and best practices also made things easier forNMCIR developed great relationships voter they were trying to contact was organizations who were either working withwith active members of the Northern not at the address they obtained from this for the first time or had limited capacity. the database.
Russian American Voter Education LeagueDuring the Campaign period, the Russian– * text taken from group final report. edited for length.American Voters Educational Leaguefurther strengthened the Russian–speaking This campaign gave us thecommunity of Queens and provided it with opportunity:meaningful tools that facilitated its engagementin the social and civic life of New York. to unite people to prove that each vote counts to show community strengthRAVEL significantly enlarged its voter to see the results andmobilization activities in the Forrest Hills understand the importance ofpart of Queens. In addition to traditionally community involvementtargeted Russian immigrants from European to build bridges betweenparts of the former USSR, special attentionwas paid to “Bukharian” Russian-speaking different communities By expanding RAVEL’s effective to identify and engage futureimmigrants, and others from Central Asia, combination of voter education,from Georgia (USSR) and Caucasus, most organizing and nonpartisan leadersof whom settled in Queens in the 1990’s. get–out–the-vote efforts during the election, RAVEL was able to reach over 3,000 Russian–American voters of Forest Hills three timesDue to specifics of the areas these groups each. Particular attention wascome from, they brought with them a deep- devoted to first time voters androoted skepticism towards political and civic people who had not voted inparticipation and fell away from mainstream of previous year’s general electionscommunity life. That is why they have indeed and usually vote at very low rates.been overlooked as a voting power. Theseimmigrants are compactly accommodated During the campaign periodin Queens, and have their main community RAVEL worked in cooperationinstitutions in Forrest Hills. By maintaining with other Queens communitytheir specific religious and cultural habits they based organizations to conducthave become an isolated part of the Russian two Candidate forums. As always,community. RAVEL partnered with Russian radio and Russian newspapers whoRAVEL, as the only Russian group in this area, played an extremely positive role inspecifically fully focused on voter education providing non-partisan informationand involvement , paid close attention to this to thousands of Russian-speakingphenomena and in the effort to fix the situation voters.started performing voter educational andoutreach activities in collaboration with localRussian community based organizations.
La Fuente * text taken from group final report. edited for length.La Fuente set out to increase the culture of civic participationfor its membership and allies through the Votos y Voces pro- “We are working tirelessly to ensure that our immigrant commu-ject in the fall of 2012. nities exercise their right to vote on Election Day. The immigrant vote and the hundreds of individuals working to ensure that eve-We were able to hire and train a group of people who never ryone turns out and their voices are heard are at the heart of thiscanvassed before, recruiting from our own membership andthat of allied organizations. On average we had 4-5 canvass- effort, and La Fuente is excited to be a partner.”ers a day as well as a canvass coordinator who also was de-veloped in the field. The canvass training included basic in- Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, Executive Director | La Fuenteformation and best practices for meeting their goals but alsoimportant discussions about the relationship between power, highlight was the Washington Heights committee which, without any paid organ-politics at every level of government and the immigrant com- izer, was able to staff a volunteer office the last two weeks before the election andmunity. Canvassers learned to value the role that immigrants fill it with volunteers to make phone calls and knock on doors. We held trainingscan play in impacting decisions at every ring of government. in Queens, the Bronx and at the Manhattan office where member leaders learned how to run phone banks. One of our active members, Claudia Carias, took onAs a result, the canvass was able to achieve our of goal two more and more responsibility to the point where she was planning a youth phonerounds of door knocking to 2,000 voters in our targeted bank in order to engage youth from the immigrant community to become moreneighborhoods in South Bronx, Washington Heights and Co- engaged in voting at an early age.rona, Queens. In total we made more than 4,132 knocks! Linking Issues to the Elections through Action La Fuente was able to further its coalition work during this period connecting im- portant campaigns to civic participation. As a result volunteers attended ralliesThe Votos y Voces project set out to do more than just and press conferences highlighting the need to register and vote, such as the rallyknock doors. The goal was to build capacity within the against Bain Capital during National Get Out the Vote Day. On that day, volunteersorganization and better know the neighborhoods. The registered over 100 new voters in the South Bronx, Nassau County, Long Islandcanvassers all used voter surveys to find out whether or and Corona Queens. As people registered they were encouraged to participate innot they were parents, workers, and what issues are most one of La Fuente’s major campaigns of educational justice, economic justice orimportant to them. The canvassers exceeded expecta- immigrant services and rights.tions by getting over 2,000 surveys filled out. La Fuente also held Get Out The Vote book fairs to highlight the challenges our lo- cal public schools are facing and encouraging partents to get out the vote. Work-Leadership Development Among La Fuente Volunteers: ing with specific public schools adopted by La Fuente’s committees, La FuenteLa Fuente was able to train and develop over 20 volunteers to organized book fairs where every parent who registered was given free books totake on leadership roles in the Votos y Voces campaign. One read to their kids.
El Centro del Inmigrante de Staten Island * text taken from group final report. edited for length.We used combined lists of Project Hospitality friendsand supporters to identify targeted potential votersand offer a get out the vote phone message deliveredto 800 new voters. A number of these calls took placepost Sandy and we began all the calls with a Sandycheck in.We had two meetings with the NAACP to de-velop a coordinated message from the immi-grant and African American community. Ourplan was to distribute 4000 cards, working withNAACP volunteers in all the housing projectsand surrounding immediate neighborhoods -integrating the lives of African Americans andtheir immigrant neighbors.We developed an agreed upon message which we then producedin a postcard format on the back of the postcard were the polling “El Centro is having hundreds of conversations with potential vot-site addresses for each of the public housing sites.The messaging ers on the North Shore of Staten Island. The needs of our com-emphasized the importance in our voice in choosing elected lead- munity are at stake and we will help guide voters to the booth oners who will address the concerns of our community. Election Day!” Gonzalo Mercado, Executive DirectorWe agreed to distribute these cards in all of the public housingprojects on Staten Island. We distributed cards at the Jersey St El Centro del Inmigrante de Staten IslandNYCHA projects and at the Al-Noor Rhine Ave Mosque - repre-senting a majority Pakistani community. We had planned to leaflet at the ferry but the ferries were not runningWe produced 4000 postcards pre-Sandy. We distributed many of after Hurricane Sandy. Several of the poling sites were changedthe cards at local commercial districts near the housing projects due to Sandy. For many people it was hard to know where to voteon Election Day. Because of the devastation of Sandy and the so postcard distribution on election was also a help for direction tofact that none of the housing projects on Staten Island had elec- the polls.tricity from October 29th through Election Day, it was not wise norsafe for us to visit the targeted housing projects, without access All in all, with our targeted phone calls and card distribution andto electricity or elevators. reaching out to and igniting interest in our efforts with the local NAACP, we believe our victory was demonstrated in a high number of votes in communities of color and immigrant communities on Staten Island.
D espite warnings and preparations, nobody expected Hurricane Sandy to have the kind of devastating impact that it endedup having. Low lying areas of NewYork, which were often immigrantneighborhoods, got hit especiallyhard, with homes destroyed, powergone for weeks, and no access tojobs or official relief services. Asthe storm abated, the extent of the Daniel Goodine photodamage became apparent. Local, SANDY RESPONSEState, and National authoritiesresponded immediately, but withan area as densely populated asNew York and New Jersey it wasinevitable that some areas wouldbecome crisis zones. of access to the franchise arose almost 24 hours. By Monday morning, the letter went to AlbanyOnce again, like in all times of crisis, immediately. Many poll sites looked like with over a hundred signatures gathered during a drainingNew Yorkers came together to help they would remain flooded for weeks, weekend. Governor Cuomo signed the Executive Order toeach other through, with neighbors and access to information was made allow affidavit ballot access to all displaced New Yorkersorganizing support kitchens difficult by the disruption of cell networks across New York State on Monday afternoon November 5th,and cleanup efforts. Immigrants and communication chains. The NYIC saying that he could not let democracy be stopped by theVote! Campaign partners were reached out to Common Cause New York storm.immediately involved in clean-up and the New York Election Protectionand support efforts in Brooklyn, Table to formulate The resilience of all New Yorkers wasStaten Island, Queens, Hudson a joint strategy inspiring to see, with many groupsValley, and Long Island. Meanwhile of advocating for going full out to coordinate reliefNYIC staff came together on affidavit ballot access efforts and alleviate immediate issuesphones to help connect disaster for all displaced New in South Brooklyn, Staten Island,relief efforts with translation Yorkers regardless of Westchester and Putnam Counties,services, disseminate information, location. Long Island, and Northern Queens;and advocate for immediate action while others continued their outreachto help immigrant communities Using the fast efforts, getting up to date informationand all New Yorkers. These efforts response online on poll site changes and ride shareshappened in spite of the reality that network developed to voters throughout the city.many partner offices were shut by the Immigrantsdown for many weeks, with the Vote! 2012 Campaign, All partner groups were back intoNew York Immigration Coalition’s all partner groups final outreach mode on Electionoffice and servers inaccessible for were able to add Day, providing rides, poll monitoring,over a week. their voices to a A handout photo released on 04 November 2012 showing New York Governor An- drew Cuomo surveying the destruction from Hurricane Sandy in Lindenhurst, New addressing issues, and going door to sign-on letter to the York, USA, 03 November 2012. The storm was one of the largest in history to hit the US East Coast and has caused power outages for millions of people in the Eastern US door in affected communities to makeWith Election Day only a weekend Governor and an and crippled transportation in New York City. EPA/JUDY SANDERS / sure people came out to vote.away when the storm hit, problems online petition within
The Latino community, by no means o Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights worked with NALEO to uniform in New York, has been the most hold educational forums, and to reach Latino voters in the Bronx and Upper numerous immigrant group over the last Manhattan. decade. Latino enclaves have sprung up o La Fuente activated thousands of Latino voters across New York and in in every borough of NYC and in small Nassau County in Long Island. They were co-leads on the NYIC voter towns all over New York State. Latino registration efforts and led one of the largest outreach efforts of the campaign, outreach has been a major focus of the talking to over 7,500 Latino voters. immigrant rights movement and we saw o The Hudson Valley Community Coalition focused all their outreach efforts some impressive results, with 71% of on Spanish speaking groups who are dispersed all through Westchester, Latino voters sending President Obama Dutchess, and Putnam Counties in a continued effort to retain focus on areas back to the oval office. outside of NYC where most immigrant population growth has taken place overPanel at America’s Society sponsored by the Rockefeller Broth-ers Fund. Photo courtesy of the NYIC. the last decade. Partner groups engaged with Latino o The NYIC co-hosted two panels with the America’s Society under the communities in and out of NYC: auspices of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Each one focused on the impact ofo NICE & QCH engaged a primarily undocumented community in Queens, the Latino vote on immigration reformgetting their students to go door to door and encourage voters to cast their o The programs looked at advances (or setbacks) in immigration policyvote to help and empower those who cannot. in the next four years including the likelihood of immigration reform, with ao El Centro del Inmigrante de Staten Island engaged day-laborers in outreach focus on what form it could take, how immigration legislation could work itsand Sandy cleanup work to help all Staten Island residents, regardless of way through Congress and how to get stakeholders on board. The audiencestatus. consisted of a varied group of educators, students, NGOs, foundations, and public and private sector representatives. Hispanic Community Engagement o Panelists included: Erica Gonzalez, Executive Editor of El Diario La Prensa; Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition; Jorge Pérez, Senior Vice President, Manpower North America; and Muzaffar SPOTLIGHT Chishti, Director, Migration Policy Institute Office at NYU School of Law o NICE and QCH worked closely with the growing South Asian Community in Jackson Heights, Queens. They recruited volunteers who spoke Bengali, Hindi, Pashto, and Urdu to reach those new Americans who have not been engaged Asian Community Engagement before, and they had an incredible impact, with many voters saying that this was the first time they could engage with the issues in their own languages, giving them a real stake in the election. The Asian-American community is now the fastest growing immigrant community in the US, and it has traditionally been one of the most difficult o The Arab American Association of New York worked with the increasingly general groups to engage in civic participation efforts. This year partner groups diverse Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in Bay Ridge and made some strong inroads into activating this sleeping giant. The results have Bensonhurst in Brooklyn. been stunning, with large Asian-American turnouts voting 73% for President Recruiting native speakers of Obama. Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali along with their core of Arabic speakers Immigrants Vote! Campaign partners have been at the forefront of engaging gave them an outsized impact in Asian-American voters since the beginning of NYIC’s civic engagement the neighborhood. The candidate programs forum AAANY hosted drew over 250 community members o Minkwon Center for Community Action worked hard to activate the Korean, and shook up the established Chinese, and South Asian communities in Queens. Minkwon capitalized on power structure by showing that the possibility of electing the first Asian American woman in New York to the immigrant community was Congress by hosting a well attended candidate forum and connecting their changing and becoming more voter education efforts to possible electoral impact. They were also involved active. in tracking redistricting efforts and advocating for fair districts. All this on top of leading the NYIC’s voter registration efforts in 2012. Minkwon Center’s Candidate Forum
lesson two UNIFIED EFFORT IS EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE The clearest benefit of the Immigrants Vote! Campaign is that a unified effort among immigrant community serving organizations helps all partners move up the civic engagement pipeline. A coordinated effort removes duplication in work and outreach targets, quickly scales best practices, allows for vigorous knowledge exchange, and generates greater effort among members to engage in civic education work, community building, and leadership development. lesson three In partner evaluations, the most consistent theme that emerged was that uniting under the banner of the INNOVATION AND COORDINATION THROUGH ONLINE lesson one Immigrants Vote! Campaign and the NYIC created a ENGAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY magnified voice for each partner, while at the sameTRUSTED COMMUNITY-BASED time getting out an important unified message. This By using online reporting, communication, andORGANIZATIONS ARE THE BEST campaign theme is maintained through branding and scheduling tools, Immigrants Vote! 2012 CampaignVEHICLES FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT message guidance, but also through a flexible structure partners and staff were able to schedule meetings, which encourages groups to experiment with materials review materials, draft public statements, accumulateNew York remains a vibrant tapestry of applicable to their own communities while using information, make quick decisions, and collectblending and overlapping immigrant larger campaign branding to maintain continuity in weekly reports in a smooth and efficient manner. Thecommunities, all in various states of communications stretching across the New York metro structure allowed NYIC staff and consultants to staybecoming civically engaged. Immigrant- area. connected to the field, monitor possible issues, directled and immigrant-serving groups remain resources effectively, and show full, real-time impactthe first line of engagement with these During this campaign cycle the Campaign was able to of partner efforts to National coordinators and allieschanging neighborhoods, first as service work on the overarching Immigrants Vote! Campaign on a weekly basis.providers, and then as educators and links brand that provided groups with a common identityto the larger civic life of New York and the and unified partner organizations into a cohesive The online coordination structure also allowed NYICnation. campaign. Coordinated message development led staff to track and provide needed support in a timely to deeper integration among partners and created a manner from a variety of locations. The technologyBy working with trusted community civic engagement program that increased visibility and allowed each group to maximize its own efficiencygroups, who primarily rely on volunteers strengthened the image of immigrant communities as a by taking time consuming tasks and condensing themor stipended long-time supporters from voting bloc. down to a few weekly actions. The online tools arethe community, the NYIC is able to put continuing to improve and the NYIC is planningresources and expertise exactly at the The unified effort went beyond just branding, to focus on to implement a few new tools in 2013, includingpoint of impact and have the strongest capacity building, strategy, messaging, voter education, building a Nationbuilder framework for integratingpossible long-term effects. The long-term and public awareness activities. The framework and all online, social media, and mobile outreach into acommitment from the NYIC network resources developed during the electoral cycle will be single campaign interface.continues to show in the growth and adapted for use in the 2013 Campaign.vibrancy of organizations across the civicengagement pipeline. LESSONS
“Connecting with a real person who cares about their right to vote can make all the difference, especially to someone who has never voted before.” Betsy Palmieri, Executive Director Hudson Valley Community Coalition CONCLUSIONSPast surveys show that new citizen voters made up nearly NYIC members are ready to parlay their experience and power buildinghalf of all first-time voters in New York—an indication of into activating more of their communities, and running campaigns thattheir continuing growing electoral power and central role create strength, inform voters, and hold elected officials accountablein revitalizing our democracy. Immigrant voters bring to promises made in the electoral cycle. The NYIC plans to lead thenew energy into the country’s electoral life, and there’s no efforts again in 2013, and will be focusing on NYC Metro areas, Longdenying the growing power of the New American voting Island, Westchester County, Putnam County, and Dutchess County. Thebloc. goal in 2013 is to increase the immigrant voter share and to continue building the power and capacity of the immigrant community servingThe NYIC has been at the forefront of engaging immigrant organizations in our network.communities in the civic life of New York City and NewYork State for 25 years, leading the way in policy advocacy, The Immigrants Vote! 2012 Campaign has been a tremendous successpower/capacity building, and critical community response. as it has helped create momentum to keep immigrant issues at theThe Immigrants Vote! 2012 Campaign brought years of forefront of policy debates,investment in developing community leaders into sharp served as a platform forrelief, as the NYIC network came together to create a continued advocacy, and will bepowerful, coordinated, and effective outreach effort in a springboard for 2013 electiona short time with limited resources, and braved a natural efforts. None of this would havedisaster to educate, connect, and pave the way for thousands been possible without the long-of New American voters to cast their ballots. term vision of our members, funders, and supporters, whomPartners are now gearing up to maximize their impact in we thank for their commitmentthe 2013 municipal elections, where New York immigrant to long-term engagement of thecommunities tend to play an outsized role. With 19 city shifting, vibrant, and diversecouncil seats up for election, and citywide offices for immigrant communities of NewMayor, Comptroller, and Public Advocate up for grabs, York.
The 2012 Campaign would not have been possible without the support of our committed funders and national partners: Rockefeller Brothers Fund Four Freedoms Fund Center for Community Change Solidago Foundation And all other NYIC supporters without whom we would not exist. Biggest Thanks to Dedicated Electoral Staff at Partner Groups: Eva Lewis, Valeria Treves, and Anna Dioguardi - NICE/QCH, Shanna Goldman and Lucia Gomez-Jimenez - La Fuente, Sabrina Fong and Immigrants Vote! 2012 Campaign leaders at 10,000 regis-tered voter mark press conference. Photo courtesy of NYIC. James Hong - Minkwon, Almirca Santiago - NMCIR, Linda Sarsour and Faisa Ali - AAANY, Vladimir Epshteyn - RAVEL, Gonzalo Mercado and Terry Troia - El Centro and Project Hospitality, Betsy Palmieri and Jonathan Stribling-Uss - HVCC, Graciela Heymann - WHC; and an extra thank you to the 650 volunteers and staffers who worked through rain and storm to engage their communities. This Campaign benefited from technical support provided by: Ben Hanna, Center for Community Change Sonya Reynolds, State Voices / ISSI Maurice Mitchell, New York State C3 Roundtable Special Thanks to PILOBOLUS and Esther Fuchs at whosontheballot.org NYIC Campaign Staff: Alan Kaplan, Campaign Director Manny Castro, Electoral Consultant Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director Karen Kaminsky, Deputy Executive Director
The Immigrants Vote Campaign is a non-partisan (501 c3) effort to inform voters about the electoral process, coordinated by the New York Immigration Coalition (www.thenyic.org). The collaborative consists of Minkwon Center for Community Action, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Northern ManhattanCoalition for Immigrant Rights, El Centro del Inmigrante, Arab American Association of New York, Hudson Valley Community Coalition, La Fuente, Russian American Voter Education League, Queens Community House, and the Westchester Hispanic Coalition.nyic www.thenyic.org 212.627.2227
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