Race, Economics, Environment Continue To Drive State’s Asthma Disparities

Kamyle Dunn used to sleep with her hand resting on her mother’s chest so she could feel it expand and contract and know that her mom hadn’t stopped breathing during the night.

Dunn’s mother, Maria Cotto, has long had severe asthma. Dunn inherited the condition, though she has mostly grown out of it as an adult. Now, Dunn’s 12-year-old son also has severe asthma.

“People kind of shrug it off as not that big of a deal,� said Dunn, who lives with her family in East Harford. “But I see what it’s done to my mother, and I see what it’s doing to my son, and what it has done to me.�

In Connecticut, 10.6% of children and 10.5% of adults have asthma, according to state data from 2019.  According to DataHaven’s 2021 Community Wellbeing survey, 12% of adults have asthma.

Asthma does not impact all people equally.

“In the state of Connecticut, similarly to other states in the country, this condition disproportionately affects minority populations, including African Americans and Hispanics,â€� said Dr. Mario Perez, an assistant professor of medicine at UConn Health who studies asthma disparities and who Cotto sees for her asthma.

DataHaven’s survey found that 11% of white, 13% of Black, and 21% of Latino adults have asthma.

Economics also seems to play a role. Only 6% of adults in wealthy towns have asthma, while 16% of adults in cities like New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford and Bridgeport have the condition. In addition, 19% of adults earning less than $30,000 per year have asthma, compared to only 9% of those earning $100,000 per year.

“Residents in city centers are typically three to four times more likely to visit the emergency room with an asthma diagnosis than residents of outer suburban areas,� said Mark Abraham, executive director, DataHaven.

Air Quality And Geography

Connecticut has long been known as the “tailpipe of the nationâ€� due to pollution that drifts in from other states. The 2022 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association gave every Connecticut county a poor grade for ozone levels. Fairfield, Middlesex, New Haven and New London all received a grade of F, while Tolland and Windham counties received D grades, and Hartford and Litchfield were each given a C.

“We know that environmental factors, particularly factors such as air pollution, can be associated and contribute to the disease and to disease flare,� Perez said.

A 2009 study of New Haven County children recruited from the Yale Asthma Care Center found an increased risk of symptoms and inhaler use in children with asthma who had exposure to traffic-related fine particles.

Additionally, some research has suggested a link between crime and asthma rates, which highlights the need for healthier communities overall. “Having the sense that your neighborhood is more secure actually decreases the rate of asthma and asthma exacerbations,â€� Perez says.

City Risk Factors And Glimmers Of Hope

Robert Carmon shows off his basketball skills on the court off Glade Street near his West Haven home. His asthma has improved since he was diagnosed as an infant. [Melanie Stengel Photo.]

Robert Carmon, 11, who recently moved from New Haven to West Haven, developed asthma as an infant and was rushed to the hospital by his parents on a near-weekly basis during the early years of his life. Robert has improved since C-HIT first reported on him in 2018, but the condition still impacts his life. He’d like to play on the basketball team at school but can’t because he worries his asthma will flare up. “I can play pickup games as long as I don’t play too hard,â€� he said.

The frequency of his trips to the emergency room has decreased, but he still goes to the hospital about once every month or so, said Robert’s father, Chaz Carmon.

Stories such as Robert’s are common in Connecticut cities. In recent years they have ranked high in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s annual Asthma Capitals Report, but this year saw marked improvement. Hartford moved from 17th worst to 69th on the list, Bridgeport dropped to 85th, from 29th in 2021, while New Haven dropped from 5th to 90th.

“New Haven saw the biggest positive jump in rank of all the 100 metropolitan statistical areas that we analyze,� said Hannah Jaffee, a research analyst with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.

However, people shouldn’t read too much into the improved rankings because this year’s list was created based on different data sources than previous years. For example, insurance claims were examined instead of the self-reported surveys used previously. In addition, more localized data was utilized rather than the county-level data used for the report in previous years.

Even still, Jaffee said, the three most populous counties have seen some improvement.

“When we do look at the county-level data that we previously used asthma prevalence rates for Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven county, they’ve all declined over the past five years,� she said. The death rate has also generally declined in those three counties over the past 20 years, Jaffee added.

Improving Asthma Rates

Proven strategies for reducing asthma incidence and severity include working to ensure all residents have access to culturally competent health care and improving indoor and outdoor air quality for those in cities.

“Asthma triggers can be mitigated through housing quality improvements like better air conditioning filters and education for families about what the triggers might be. If you’re running a gas stove for cooking, and you don’t have good ventilation, it’s producing a lot of air pollution inside.�

— Mark Abraham, executive director, DataHaven

The Connecticut Asthma Program is a state-run initiative attempting to decrease asthma disparities through partnerships with health care providers while providing education about the condition and expanding access to Connecticut’s asthma home visiting program. The state has also promoted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) EXHALE framework for asthma management.

Perez says that the most effective interventions will take place before a patient ever arrives in front of him. “I think we as a society have to address everything from the environmental pollution and climate that we’re creating as humans to improving education and access to health care, but also improving the socio-economic status of the population in general.�

In the meantime, some say more can be done individually to help those with asthma. For instance, while Robert’s current school allows him to keep his asthma pump on hand, he wasn’t allowed to do that in the past. “They always said you have to keep your bag in your locker,� he said. That could cause asthma attacks to get out of control before he could get to his pump.

His father adds that each school should have a nebulizer in the nurse’s office with staff trained to administer asthma medication. That way, a student “can be on the nebulizer at least until the parents get there,� Carmon says, and if the nebulizer helps enough, the student might be able to return to class.

Cotto says it’s important for medical staff to remember that each patient is different. Cotto horrifyingly learned this when she was given epinephrine during an emergency asthma flare. While the medication can be helpful to some patients, it nearly killed her.

“I’m allergic to it. When they administered it to me, my heart stopped,� she said. When this happened in 2013, she ended up in a coma for 22 days.

After Cotto’s coma, her asthma worsened, and she could not leave the house without oxygen for many years. In 2014 she began seeing Perez, who took the time to figure out her specific triggers and a treatment plan that worked for her. Though she struggles at times, her asthma is more under control than it has been in years.

“He tried a whole bunch of different medications and finally found one that works for me,â€� Cotto says. “I’m actually able to leave the house without oxygen.â€�  That’s something she hasn’t done for nearly a decade.

You can find out more about asthma in Connecticut and asthma management in general by visiting the following sites: 


Race, Economics, Environment Continue To Drive State’s Asthma Disparities was first published on Connecticut Health I-Team.

All photos by Melanie Stengel.

Publisher’s Note:  CTLN and c-hit.org collaborate to best serve the Connecticut Hispanic, Latino community.

Period Poverty in Illinois: Community-Driven Solutions

Gray skies and clouds signal spotted rain showers above the heads of folks bundled in their winter coats, lining their carritos up along the side of a former church on Karlov and Kamerling Ave. They know the drill. Line up and wait for their number to be called, a recent change added to prevent arguments over who was there first or who stepped out of line. It’s the first Friday of October, and although distribution begins at noon– two hours later– the line is already curving around the corner in anticipation of The Bloc’s monthly pantry pop-up.

The Bloc sits in Humboldt Park, Chicago’s West Side neighborhood known for its rich Puerto Rican culture. 55.4 percent of Humboldt Park residents are Hispanic and 30.9 percent have an annual household income of less than $25,000. The statistics are reflected in the line, which consists of mostly middle-aged to elder Latinos.

Prepping the table of hygiene products sparks a comment from one of the volunteers, expressing frustration about her teen daughter who has been giving her period products to other students at their all-girls Catholic high school.

“Well, what if they don’t have products?� Operations Manager Tanya Bermudez asked, matter-of-factly.

This lack of access to menstrual products, hygiene facilities, education or waste management is referred to as period poverty, or menstrual poverty. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many people this phenomenon affects, but according to the Journal of Global Health Reports, 500 million people lack access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities worldwide, and in the U.S.,16.9 million people who menstruate live in poverty.

An obvious contributor to period poverty is cost. Illinois eliminated the tampon tax in 2016, although 22 states still tax menstrual products as luxury items. Prices of products vary depending on brand, preferred product type and flow–but menstruating is expensive. In fact, CVS recently announced a plan to reduce the price of their brand of period products by 25 percent to promote menstrual equity. Monthly tampon use over a person’s lifetime is estimated to cost $1,800 and the price is increasing.

This year, inflation and supply chain issues raised the average price of menstrual pads by 8.3 percent and tampons by 9.8, according to NielsenIQ. For people already struggling to get by, this can be the difference between having a healthy period or having money for groceries.

Product distribution, like The Bloc’s Pantry Pop Up, are community-driven solutions attempting to bridge the gap towards product access. The Bloc originated as a free youth mentor and boxing program, but has expanded its services and now offers free groceries, cleaning supplies, period products and more on a biweekly basis.

When Bermudez joined The Bloc in September 2021, she saw an immediate need to reorganize the type of period products being ordered for distribution.

“Right away I knew we had way too many tampons, I know that this demographic wants pads, like I just already knew that,� Bermudez said.

A study of low-income women between the ages of 18 to 35 showed that 22 percent of English-speaking Latinas and only 5 percent of Spanish-speaking Latinas used tampons in adolescence, citing concerns that tampons were inappropriate for virgins or that they didn’t know how to use them.

Tanya explained her experience growing up in a Latino household, “It was very taboo to even talk about. I was very curious and you know, my mother, me regañaba if I had wanted to use a tampon. It’s like no, you’re not supposed to use that and I didn’t know why, that was never explained to me.�

Ida Melbye runs The Period Collective, a Chicago-based nonprofit that provides period products to many organizations throughout the state, including The Bloc. She also noticed this preference.

“I hardly ever get ‘we prefer tampons over pads’ but I get all the time ‘we prefer pads over tampons,’ I think that it is partially cultural, partially it’s an age thing,� she said.

As the distribution begins, this becomes evident. The menstrual product station is the first table in the lineup of donations, and the first few women in line rush over to stock up on boxes of menstrual pads and pantyliners. They glaze over the crates of shiny blue and purple tubes. Tampons are left behind as pads fly off the table. This predominantly Latino community demonstrates an aspect of culture that shies away from insertable products like tampons.

Although this option isn’t as popular, Bermudez is passionate about including as many different brands and product types as possible. She explained that it allows people to test new things without taking a gamble.

“If you’re curious you can try it and not have to pay for a box of stuff you’re not going to be able to use.� she said. “I want to make variety accessible.�

A 20-something-year-old mom approached the table and grabbed two boxes of product, reaching for an additional handful of individually wrapped pads. Her toddler son, wearing a Pickachu-yellow Pokeman jacket, balanced a stack of white maxi pads tucked under his chin for support as his mother guided him towards the next station.

By 12:25 p.m. there was a huge dent in the amount of products left, versus the amount that lined the hallways earlier that morning. Crates, bins, and boxes full of product sat along stairs and training areas of the gym. By the end of distribution, only tampons will be left.

“Those go back in the bin for next time,� said Bermudez.

Community food pantries and free products won’t solve the issue of period poverty alone. Organizers and politicians in Illinois have implemented legislation, and are crafting more, to support menstrual equity in the state. It’s a fight that continues, because whether products are affordable or not, and whether legislation supports it or not, people are going to menstruate.

“We would need trucks full of pallets to fill the need. It’s never enough.�

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Publisher’s note: “Period Poverty in Illinois: Community-Driven Solutions Fighting Against the Issue� is part of a series of stories on period poverty in Illinois supported by the USC-Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. ILLN Editor, Reporter Annabel Rocha was selected as a 2022 Reporting Fellow to explore challenges impacting child, youth and family health and well-being in the U.S.

ILLN views our audience as collaborators and in covering this topic, we need your help.

We want to know your experiences dealing with menstruation and/or period poverty. In collecting this information, we hope to gain insight on how this issue affects those in our communities. Please consider participating in the Addressing Period Poverty or Abordando La Pobreza Menstrual surveys.

We hope to use the data collected from this survey to shape our storytelling and provide the answers you most want to hear.

For more information please contact annabel@latinonewsnetwork.com.

The post Period Poverty in Illinois: Community-Driven Solutions appeared first on ILLN.

“We Don’t Feel Represented”

Voting in the United States can often be an inaccessible process preventing eligible voters, particularly in marginalized communities, from casting their ballot. This is especially true for Hispanic Latinos. Many of them are new to the electoral process, either because they just came of age or in the case of foreign-born members of the group – they just became naturalized citizens.

Nationally, college students voted at nearly the same rate as all adults in the 2020 general election — 66 percent to the national average of 67 percent.

Still, both major political parties favor older Americans as they tend to outperform young people at the polls; leaving many young people feeling ignored, disconnected, and uninterested.

Giana Aguilar-Valencia, a journalism student at DePaul University, and also an Hortencia Zavala Foundation fellow in the Journalism Camp: Covering Race, ethnicity, and culture – hosted a special edition of the Latino News Network podcast, “3 Questions With…”

The episode was a roundtable discussion about youth voting at the midterm elections, with Sara Cabral, a 21-year-old, Communications Student at DePaul University and Dylan Duncan, also 21-years-old and a Film Student at Columbia College. 

There are high expectations for young voters to get to the polls this year. According to CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at Tufts University’s Tisch College, voter turnout in Illinois among young adults ages 18 to 29 increased from 42percent in the 2016 election to 46percent in the 2020 election.


Publisher’s Notes: Part of the Latino News Network’s mission is to mentor young journalists, providing them real work experience. LNN partners with the Hortencia Zavala Foundation to that end.

IL Latino News, and sister markets under the Latino News Network (LNN), have put together voter informational guides with the help of our partner Be The Ones, to assist voters make informed decisions not only at the polls, but in their engagement with democracy going forward.

Collaboration and inclusion are best practices LNN adopted from the Democracy SOS fellowship. LNN is one of 20 U.S.-based newsrooms elected to participate in the Hearken and the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) fellowship, committed to building understanding, trust, and engagement.

The post “We Don’t Feel Represented” appeared first on ILLN.

Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice Start with How Black and Latino Youth are Arrested, Report Finds 

Black teenagers in Massachusetts are four times more likely to be physically arrested than white teens who are also facing legal trouble, according to a new report released Nov. 1 by the state’s Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board. Latino youth are almost three times more likely to experience that kind of arrest than white youth, in a state where 64% of all 12 to 17 year-olds are white. And these racial disparities prevail despite a 50% drop in overall applications for complaint since 2017.

The new report, which was mandated by a Massachusetts criminal justice reform bill passed in 2018, unveils significant disparities between races in the state’s juvenile justice system and makes recommendations for how to solve those issues. 

“The [racial] disparities are largest at the ‘front door’ of the system — the arrest and application for delinquency complaint stage,â€� the report said. “These early disparities matter.â€�

Read the full story reported by GBH News at:

https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2022/11/02/racial-disparities-in-the-juvenile-justice-system-start-with-how-black-and-latino-youth-are-arrested-report-finds


Publisher’s Note: This story is an aggregate from GBH, Massachusetts Latino News’ (MALN) partner in providing greater visibility and voice to the Hispanic-Latino community.

The other language barrier: What it means for Latinos to lose Spanish fluency

Unlike her older sister, Sofia Vega grew up learning Spanish in school. Both girls were born in the U.S., but the 11-year age difference meant Vega didn’t get the chance to travel and visit her extended family back in Colombia. Speaking mostly English at home, Vega regrets never getting the chance to learn Spanish outside of a classroom.

“It’s something I’m just a little ashamed of, like I don’t really know Spanish,â€� she said.

Now a sophomore at Quinnipiac University, Vega said that language barrier made her feel “disconnected� from her family overseas.

“It’s hard to connect with family if I can’t speak the same language as them,â€� she said. â€�I see my sister speaking with them for like 30 minutes and I’m just like, ‘I wish I could do that.’â€�

Like Vega, many U.S.-born Latinos face the expectation of speaking fluent Spanish, even though it is not part of their formal education. Because language is centrally linked to heritage, learning Spanish is a large part of Latino identity – even for Latinos that don’t speak Spanish.

Read the full story by the Record-Journal’s Latino Communities Reporting Lab at:

https://www.myrecordjournal.com/News/Meriden/Meriden-News/Spanish_speakers.html


CTLatinoNews partners with the Latino Communities Reporting Lab in best serving the Hispanic-Latino communities of Connecticut.

Latino News Network selected for LMA Lab for Journalism Funding

Local Media Association announced in October, the news organizations that will participate in the third cohort of its Lab for Journalism Funding. The Latino News Network (LNN) is among the local news organizations the lab will help develop and execute strategies to fund essential local journalism via philanthropy. The six-month immersive lab runs from November 2022 through April 2023.

The lab, a project of Local Media Foundation, is operated by LMA with continued support from the Google News Initiative. Since its launch in September 2020, the lab has trained and coached 55 publishers, helping them raise more than $11 million to fund community service journalism. LMA published a 42-page report, Pathways to Philanthropy, to share lessons learned and best practices with the news industry. 

“We are excited to welcome this latest cohort,â€� said Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer at Local Media Association. “The lab has a proven track record, and we are excited to help these news organizations find funding as one way to sustain civic journalism and a healthy local news ecosystem.â€� 

“The Google News Initiative works to support a thriving local news ecosystem, and we are excited for this third cohort of news publishers in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding to develop new, sustainable funding sources for their essential local journalism,� said Chrissy Towle, head of Associations and Ecosystems, Americas at Google.

The newsrooms accepted into the third cohort include a diverse set of publishers in small and large markets, with a strong representation of family-owned outlets and publishers who focus on traditionally underserved audiences. The cohort also includes two local broadcast news organizations. These news outlets share a commitment to local journalism that serves audiences in their communities. LMA asked leaders at these news outlets to share their goals for joining the lab.

“The diversity of revenue sources for news outlets has grown significantly. With so many options, creating a sustainable news model can be daunting,” said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN. “The Latino News Network is grateful to be part of the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding, a program that I’m confident will help us develop strong competencies in harnessing local philanthropy to support reporting projects.â€�


Publisher’s Notes: This announcement was first published by the Local Media Association: News outlets selected for third cohort of LMA Lab for Journalism Funding.

More about LNN

The Latino News Network (LNN) mission is to provide greater visibility and voice to Hispanics-Latinos, amplify the work of others in doing the same, give young journalists mentoring and real work experience, and apply the principles of solutions journalism in its investigative reporting.

Wisconsin Latino News is one of six local news outlets overseen by LNN in the Midwest and New England.

The post Latino News Network selected for LMA Lab for Journalism Funding appeared first on WILN.

Democracy in RILN: Voter Access Across New England

Hispanic and Latino Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S. electorate, with about 34.5 million Hispanics and Latinos eligible to vote in 2022 – around 62% of all new eligible voters nationally since 2018 are Hispanics and Latinos. 

While the turnout for Hispanic and Latino voters nationwide has increased over the past decade, they still fall behind other groups. Hispanic and Latino voters face a variety of barriers, but efforts to limit voter access are increasing across the country.

Democracy doesn’t properly work when people and communities are blocked or prevented from participating within local, state, and national elections. 

Expanding voting access across the country ensures that communities are accurately and justly represented by its elected officials. 

Advocating for and increasing voting access includes expanding early voting, online voter registration, and same-day voter registration. 

In Rhode Island, three significant barriers to voting were recently removed through the Let RI Vote Act, which was enacted in June. 

The act “allows residents to vote by mail without an excuse, drops the requirement that mail ballots be signed by two witnesses or notarized and makes permanent early in-person voting that was introduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic,� according to The Center for Public Integrity

However, democracy activists argue that the state’s strict voter ID requirements still create a roadblock, especially for voters of color. 

Studies over the past years have found “that voters of color in states across the country lacked access to the needed IDs to vote in their state…Using county-level turnout data around the country, researchers demonstrated that the racial turnout gap grew when states enacted strict voter ID laws,� the Brennan Center reported

In 2020, non-traditional voting — all types of non-election day voting including vote-by-mail and absentee voting — accounted for about 69.4% of the vote, according to Deliver My Vote Executive Director Amanda Pohl.

“Vote-by-mail programs and any early-voting program does provide greater access to the ballot and that supports the basic foundation of our democracy,� Pohl said.

“We had the highest turnout election in modern history,� she added. “We had more people of color [and] young people voting…and more people accessing the ballot who otherwise,� would have not be able to.

Nonprofit leaders at the Vote Local Day discussion on Vote By Mail & Voter ID’s emphasized that the rate of vote-by-mail has increased over the years. They also spoke on how early-voting, vote-by-mail, and absentee ballots have led to greater and more diverse participation throughout the country. 

“Those accessible programs do increase access to voting for disenfranchised communities, especially, and we have some research that we released in February that also shows that young voters and especially voters of color are more likely to vote if they’re given vote-by-mail options,� Pohl said in the discussion.

Although data has found that expanding voter access results in higher participation rates among communities, officials across the U.S. are working to backtrack some of these laws.

“As soon as those things happened, we immediately saw states starting to clamp down on voting methodologies…We’re also seeing backlash from legislatures that don’t want to see that increased participation,â€� Pohl said. 

Since May, almost 400 restrictive bills have been introduced in legislatures across the nation. Some restrictions deny assistance to voters with limited English proficiency, according to the Brennan Center

“Over the past 18 months, there has been a wave of anti-voter bills introduced and passed across the country, many of them designed to undermine the growing political power of Latinos and other communities of color,â€� wrote the Brennan Center. 

Research by the Brennan Center would support the idea that the ongoing increase in voter restrictions are strongly motivated/influenced by “racial backlash�.

“Racial Backlash� is a theory that “describes how white Americans respond to a perceived erosion of power and status by undermining the political opportunities of minorities,� according to the Brennan Center.  


Important Reminders 

Registration: 

RI residents can no longer register at this time. Voter registration by mail, in person, and online ended on Oct. 9. 

Check your registration status at: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Home/UpdateVoterRecord?ActiveFlag=0&?ref=voteusa_en 

Early Voting

Early voting is available from Oct. 19 to Nov. 7. Learn more at:

https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Voter/PersonVotingPage

Submitting an Absentee Ballot: 

Any voter could have requested a ballot by mail before Oct. 18. 

Ballots by mail must be recieved by Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. EST either by mail or in-person to be counted. 

Track your mail-in ballot at: https://ballottrax.sos.ri.gov/voter/ 

Voting Day:

On Nov. 8, RI Polls are generally open 7a.m. to 8 p.m. (any resident standing in line at the polls at 8 p.m. is able to vote.) Find specific hours by municipality at: https://elections.ri.gov/voting/pollhours.php 

Locate a polling place near you at: 

https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Home/PollingPlaces?ActiveFlag=2

Or 

https://gettothepolls.com


Additional Resources 

General

Be The Ones English Local Voter Guide 

Be The Ones Spanish Local Voter Guide 

Vote.org Poll Locator – https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/ 

Rhode Island

Common Cause RI Website – https://www.commoncause.org/

3 Questions With Executive Director John Marion Episode – https://rilatinonews.com/category/3-questions-with/ 


Publisher’s note: RI Latino News, under the Latino News Network umbrella, has put together this informational guide with the help of our partner Be The Ones, to help voters make informed decisions not only at the polls, but in their engagement with democracy going forward. 

Collaboration and inclusion are best practices LNN adopted from the Democracy SOS fellowship. LNN is one of 20 U.S.-based newsrooms elected to participate in the Hearken and the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) fellowship, committed to building understanding, trust, and engagement.

Democracy in Illinois: Reproductive Justice in the Midwest

With this election riding off the wave of Roe v. Wade being overturned just a few months before, it’s safe to say that reproductive justice is one of the biggest issues impending in this election.

Voter turnout tends to be lower during midterms, although over 5.5 million Americans have already cast their vote in this election. Still, evidence supports the existence of voter suppression in communities of color, making voter access another important topic in this election.    

“For people of color, historically, elections have not benefited them. Promises are broken, racism exists to where they say ‘why bother, my vote doesn’t count’,â€� said Maureen Keane, co-founder of She Votes IL. “And so we all need to take a hard look at what that means. And how do we make those corrections to make marginalized communities be able to use their power and vote.â€� 

There’s power in these numbers. Latinos are the fastest growing racial-ethnic group in the country. According to Pew Research Center, 34.5 million Hispanic Americans are eligible to vote this year. This number has increased by 4.7 million from the Midterm Election in 2018, accounting for 62 percent of total growth of eligible voters.

What’s at stake in this election?

While Wisconsin health providers ceased performing abortions, enacting an 1849 abortion ban after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, these procedures remain legal in Illinois. This prompted a partnership between Planned Parenthood in these states to fill the need for the influx of people traveling across state lines for treatment.

Reproductive justice is most often associated with abortion rights and access. In the broader sense, this term encompasses a human’s right to control their own body and make decisions regarding reproduction, sexuality, gender, childrearing and more. 

As Keane explained, “Reproductive justice is the access to reproductive healthcare, the affordability of reproductive healthcare, [and the freedom from] discrimination [and] racism that creates those barriers.” 

When asked which issues were “very important� to their decision-making in this election, Pew reports that 71 percent of Latino registered voters said healthcare and 57 percent said abortion.

Several bills in the works could have an impact on reproductive rights in Illinois, including HB1464 which protects Illinois reproductive healthcare providers from treating out of state patients. Those placed in power during this election can enact bills and policies that directly impact the future of reproductive justice going forward.

Which are some important roles to know?

Graphic courtesy of Be The Ones

How can these positions impact reproductive justice?

The Governor can:

  • Sign/veto bills increasing access and opportunity
  • Influence state legislature on direction and priorities (abortion access, contraception, insurance coverage, Title X, gender-affirming care, etc.)
  • Include funding in state budget for reproductive justice policies and programs
  • Hire or fire some senior-level state roles
  • Champion insurance policies for state employees (bereavement including miscarriage, paid family leave, medically necessarytransition-related care)

The District Attorney can:

  • Prioritize defending civil rights and reproductive justice through decisions on health-related investigations and prosecutions
  • Influence the future of mass incarceration, death penalty and diversion programs (incarceration of birthing people, access to diversion programs for transgender individuals, etc.)
  • Support programs and training for staff to be humane and fair

The Sheriff can:

  • Decide to arrest people wanting, needing, or offering reproductive healthcare and how to sentence them
  • Decide how to enforce state abortion bans and if they’ll work with out of state inquiries/investigations
  • Control what health services people in prison have access to
    (contraception, menstrual products, pregnancy care, routine health services, etc.)
  • Determine if birthing people are forced to give birth in jail
  • Control treatment/care of transgender people in prison
  • Provide security and protection at healthcare centers

The School Boards can:

  • Support comprehensive and medically accurate sex education 
  • Expand funding and access to medical and mental health services for students 
  • Pass policies protecting LGBTQIA+ students 
  • Support pregnant and parenting youth 
  • Work with local elected officials to make reproductive healthcare accessible to teens and overcome barriers including transportation, limited income and language access

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This year’s General Election takes place on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

Early Voting in IL started on Oct. 24. You can participate in Early Voting through Nov. 7.

Early Voting in WI (by absentee ballot) opened on Oct. 25. You can participate in Early Voting through Nov. 5. 

Additional resources: 

Be The Ones nonpartisan voter guide in English

Be The Ones nonpartisan voter guide in Spanish

She Votes IL Why Your Vote Matters voting info guide 

AARP How to Vote in WI’s 2022 Elections guide

Early Voting in Chicago here

Early Voting in Illinois here 

Find your polling place in Illinois here

What’s on your ballot? Ballotopedia tool Illinois

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Publisher’s note: WI Latino News and IL Latino News, sister markets under the Latino News Network (LNN), have put together this informational guide with the help of our partner Be The Ones, to assist voters make informed decisions not only at the polls, but in their engagement with democracy going forward.

Collaboration and inclusion are best practices LNN adopted from the Democracy SOS fellowship. LNN is one of 20 U.S.-based newsrooms elected to participate in the Hearken and the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) fellowship, committed to building understanding, trust, and engagement.

The post Democracy in Illinois: Reproductive Justice in the Midwest appeared first on ILLN.

Addressing Voting Barriers Among the Latinx Electorate

General local and state elections are quickly approaching so it’s crucial that residents feel informed and motivated to vote on Tuesday, November 8.

While election guides and resources are plentiful in the fall – such as our New England Voting Guide–  many organizations like Common Cause Rhode Island are dedicated to promoting and educating people on local and national democracy all year-round. 

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization committed to upholding democracy across the U.S. with a presence in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

Common Cause RI Executive Director John Marion was this month’s guest on the Latino News Network podcast, “3 Questions With…â€�. 

Marion first spoke on national efforts to address voting misinformation and disinformation, which continues to disproportionately reach Hispanic and Latino communities online. This leads to confusion and frustration among potential Hispanic-Latino voters, possibly turning them away from casting their ballot. 

“We, nationally, have a program called social media monitoring where we recruit volunteers among our supporters and we give them training [on] how to spot misinformation and disinformation,� he told RI Latino News.

The program also shows volunteers how to either fix the factually incorrect information on the social media platform or “how to elevate it so that, ultimately, in some instances it can be reported to the platform itself.â€� 

Marion said the program is always looking for volunteers, particularly Spanish speaking volunteers. 

“Much of [misinformation and disinformation] has been targeting the Spanish language population in the United States and they’re especially vulnerable because platforms haven’t been as good in dealing with [misinformation from] non-English speakers on the platforms.�

For Election Day, residents can sign up as a nonpartisan Election Protection volunteer at ProtectTheVote.net. Anyone with a Rhode Island zip code would be directed to Marion so he can schedule them a one-hour online training session. 

“Once they’ve gone through that training, we assign them to a polling place and they’ll ask them to do a three hour shift on Election Day,â€� Marion explained. These volunteers stand outside with informational English and Spanish literature, looking for voters who might have questions. 

Marion also shared multilingual resources across Rhode Island that aim to support the state’s diverse communities in voting.

“Rhode Island has four communities that under the federal Voting Rights Act have to provide bilingual election services to voters…because of the size of the Spanish language populations in these communities,â€� he explained. 

Providence, Pawtucket, Central falls, and Woonsocket “have to provide ballots in English and Spanish as well as all other voting materials and they’re also supposed to have poll workers who can speak Spanish so they can assist voters.�

“Our Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has been fantastic in developing resources in multiple languages,� Marion said. Residents can visit Secretary Gorbea’s website — vote.ri.gov — for a variety of information on voting available in English and Spanish

Rhode Island has taken steps, institutionally, over the past decade to get young people registered to vote but Marion emphasized the importance of local organizations and groups to motivate young people to cast their ballots. 

“That is, to me, really the gateway to civic participation: through working with other people that care about issues you care about,â€� he said. 

“Young people need to get involved with organizations that are working on issues they care about,â€� Marion explained. “Whatever issue you care about, find the group that is working on that and start showing up and I think you’ll find like minded people and then you’ll find that politicians are paying attention to your group.â€� 


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Democracy in MALN: Voter Access Across New England

Hispanic and Latino Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S. electorate since the last midterm elections, with about 34.5 million Hispanics and Latinos eligible to vote in 2022.

While the turnout for Hispanic and Latino voters nationwide has increased over the past decade, they still fall behind other groups. Hispanic and Latino voters face a variety of barriers, but efforts to limit voter access are increasing across the country.

Democracy doesn’t properly work when people and communities are blocked or prevented from participating within local, state, and national elections. 

Expanding voting access across the country ensures that communities are accurately and justly represented by its elected officials. 

In Massachusetts, there has been progress in expanding voting access as Gov. Charlie Baker signed early in-person voting permanently into law on June 22

Practices such as voting by mail and in-person early voting were first implemented in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The system of allowing [voting] in one short window, is one that has precluded many people in the past,” said Editor-In-Chief Matt DeRienzo of The Center for Public Integrity. “These changes are really leveling the playing field.”

Advocating for and increasing voting access includes expanding early voting, online voter registration, and same-day voter registration. 

In 2020, non-traditional voting — all types of non-election day voting including vote-by-mail and absentee voting — accounted for about 69.4% of the vote, according to Deliver My Vote Executive Director Amanda Pohl.

“Vote-by-mail programs and any early-voting program does provide greater access to the ballot and that supports the basic foundation of our democracy,� said Pohl.

“We had the highest turnout election in modern history,� she added. “We had more people of color [and] young people voting…and more people accessing the ballot who otherwise,� would have not be able to.

Nonprofit leaders at the Vote Local Day discussion on Vote By Mail & Voter ID’s emphasized that the rate of vote-by-mail has increased over the years. They also spoke on how early-voting, vote-by-mail, and absentee ballots have led to greater and more diverse participation throughout the country. 

“Those accessible programs do increase access to voting for disenfranchised communities, especially, and we have some research that we released in February that also shows that young voters and especially voters of color are more likely to vote if they’re given vote-by-mail options,� Pohl said in the discussion.

Although data has found that expanding voter access results in higher participation rates among communities, officials across the U.S. are working to backtrack some of these laws.

“As soon as those things happened, we immediately saw states starting to clamp down on voting methodologies…We’re also seeing backlash from legislatures that don’t want to see that increased participation,â€� Pohl said. 

Since May, almost 400 restrictive bills have been introduced in legislatures across the nation. Some restrictions deny assistance to voters with limited English proficiency, according to the Brennan Center

“Over the past 18 months, there has been a wave of anti-voter bills introduced and passed across the country, many of them designed to undermine the growing political power of Latinos and other communities of color,â€� wrote the Brennan Center. 

Research by the Brennan Center would support the idea that the ongoing increase in voter restrictions are strongly motivated/influenced by “racial backlash�.

“Racial Backlashâ€� is a theory that “describes how white Americans respond to a perceived erosion of power and status by undermining the political opportunities of minorities,â€� according to the Brennan Center.  

Important Reminders 

Registration: 

MA residents can register by mail, in person, or online by Oct. 29; residents are not able to register on Election Day.

Learn about the different types of registration at

https://www.boston.gov/departments/elections/how-register-vote

Not sure if you’re registered? Check your registration status at:

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/VoterRegistrationSearch/MyVoterRegStatus.aspx

Mail voter registration must be postmarked by Oct. 29 to be eligible. Multilingual forms including English and Spanish are available here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleifv/howreg.htm 

Online registration ends Oct. 29 EST. Register here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/ 

In-person registration also ends Oct. 29. Residents may register at any local election office, the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and at certain public assistance agencies, according to the Secretary of State’s website.  

Early Voting

Early voting is available between Oct. 11 – Nov. 4. Learn more at:

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleev/evidx.htm

Submitting an Absentee Ballot: 

Any MA resident can request a mail-in ballot either by Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. through mail, in-person, or online at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/MailInRequestWeb/MailInBallot.aspx 

Track your mail-in ballot at:

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/TrackMyBallot

The mail request form for an absentee ballots is solely available in English at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/Vote-by-Mail-Paper-Application-2022-AVBM.pdf  

Absentee or Mail-In Ballots must be received by mail or in-person by Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. EST. 

Voting Day:

On Nov. 8, MA Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. although towns are able to open at 5:45 a.m. (any resident standing in line at the polls at 8 p.m. is able to vote.) 

Locate a polling place near you at: 

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/WhereDoIVote

Or

https://gettothepolls.com

For more general information on Voting in MA: 

https://www.mass.gov/topics/voting


Additional Resources 

General

Be The Ones English Local Voter Guide 

Be The Ones Spanish Local Voter Guide 

Vote.org Poll Locator – https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/ 

Massachusetts 

MassVote Website – https://www.massvote.org/  


Publisher’s note: MA Latino News, under the Latino News Network umbrella, has put together this informational guide with the help of our partner Be The Ones, to help voters make informed decisions not only at the polls, but in their engagement with democracy going forward.