Latinos In Connecticut Fight for District Representation

by Efrain Nieves & Victoria Cepeda

A hot topic these days is Redistricting. According to the Web dictionary, redistricting is defined as “a form of redistribution, is the process in the United States of changing political borders. This often means changing electoral district and constituency boundaries, usually in response to periodic census results”. As we know it, the 2010 census results have changed the landscape of America. To that effect, politicians across the nation are vying for political influence and representation. For Latinos, representation within their districts is key to ensure a diversity consistent with 2010 census results.

In Connecticut, Hispanics/Latinos account for 13 percent of the population. Latinos hold eight of 151 seats in the House, or about 5 percent of the chamber, and none of the 36 Senate seats”  (Conn. Hispanics gird to elect 1st state senator). But all that might change when the legislative committee submits redrawn district lines for congressional, state Senate, and state House. The district lines are modified every 10 years due to change in population.

Some organizations are taking action to ensure  redistricting  for Latinos is fair. Here is the progress as stated on articles.boston.com:

A loosely organized group of Hispanic leaders has begun identifying districts where the shifting of boundaries could allow Hispanics to become the majority, or at least consolidate their numbers. The campaign, assisted by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a New York organization, is similar to efforts ramping up across the country.

A statewide Latino Redistricting Committee has been working on strategy, and local panels in cities across the state are reaching out to communities to stir interest in the process. The state’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, which criticized the eight-member Reapportionment Committee for a lack of diversity, also recommended the creation of an ad hoc committee to help guide the process.

Leaders say if they do not like the lines when they are drawn up, they would not rule out a lawsuit challenging the state’s compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.

Juan Cartagena, president of LatinoJustice, said his staff has been discussing mapping scenarios with a handful of leaders in the state, and he is impressed by their level of activity. His group is also working on redistricting issues in Massachusetts.

Thus, it is important for us to ensure that our districts represent well our numbers within the population. Our increase in the U.S. population and within districts and counties should not be ignored. To that effect, look up your community leaders or reach out to the associations cited above for guidance as to how you can chip in. Let us count.

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