Team LUChA Spurs Latino Voter
Registration and Voting
Partisan Voter Engagement
Salvador Carranza and other Latinos have banded together
through Team LUChA to increase
Latino voter engagement for
the November 6th election.
By Jonathan Gramling

One of the reasons that Barack Obama was elected President in 2008 — and reelected in 2012 —
was his use of grassroots organizing techniques to engage potential voters who hadn’t fully
participated in the electoral process before. Obama was highly effective in reaching Millennials,
Latinos and African Americans as well as other groups through Organizing for America.

Even after Obama left office, the framework of OFA still remained and the organizing cells
continued to employ grassroots organizing on behalf of candidates.

“I have been a member of Team Blue on the far west side,” said Salvador Carranza. “There is
Team Teal and the south side team and the east side team. There is also a Fitchburg team.”

While Democratic-leaning voters have many issues — and policy solutions — in common, there
are also policy priorities and nuances that individual constituencies may have. Carranza feels
that the Latino community has agenda items that it needs to push to not only engage Latino
voters, but also make sure that those agenda items are included in the overall priorities of the
Democratic Party. Carranza and others formed Team LUChA, Latinos United for Change and
Advancement.
“We meet once per month,” Carranza said. “We have been going to events, not only to register people, but also to find out what the issues are that our communities
— not the larger, general community — think are important to them. Then we are going to be making phone calls as Team LUChA. And we are registering voters as
Team LUChA. But for everything else, each one of us connects with the neighborhood team that we belong to. Now I am connected to Team Blue, which happens to
be Monona. A lot of the people from the far west side who were members of Team Blue moved to Monona. Yesterday I did a lot of canvassing in Monona. It was a
perfect fit. I did about 31 homes. Other members of our team have been canvassing with their teams. And then we do general canvassing. We did one for Tammy
Baldwin, Mark Pocan and Chris Taylor. We did it in the Team Teal neighborhood, which is Willy Street. That’s the way that we operate.”

By being members of two teams — the OFA styled teams and Team LUChA that focuses on the Latino community — team members are able to carry engage not only
Latino voters, but also the Democratic Party on Latino issues.

“In the Latinx community, it is the economy,” Carranza said. “In spite of the low unemployment rate, the unemployment rate for Latinos is still about 4.7 percent. And
of course, when you say the economy, it’s also tied to immigration. A lot of them said, ‘Yes, here, I try to work hard for my family, but with the limitations of their own
status, it impacts their economic advancement. Obviously education is an important issue like the general public, but it is more connected to their kids and some of
the issues that they are experiencing right now in the schools like bullying.”

Related to the economy, is the need for adequate transportation to get to and from those jobs.
“Many times, they cannot afford to be on a bus for an hour and a half to be able to get to a job or even to get to an interview,” Carranza said. “It’s really hard to
prepare and be on the bus to go fresh and ready for a job interview.”

The recent ICE raids are also heavily on the minds of Latino voters.

“Immigration reform is high on the list, especially after what happened this past weekend with the ICE raids,” Carranza said. “That’s the main issue that we want to
bring forward. We really need to make a change because one of the things that we learned or reawakened to the fact that elections have consequences. We are not
immune to those consequences. And the only way that we can really make permanent change is through the electoral system. The consequences are not because of
those who actually voted whether they voted for one side or the other, whether they voted for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It’s those who decided not to choose.
That’s the main issue. That’s why we are here. We’re trying to get a lot of the people who are eligible to understand how they can register and how they can vote and
get them out to the polls.”

Especially with the implementation of the Voter ID laws, the electoral process has become more complex and daunting to some. This is especially true for people
who haven’t voted before.
“It is complicated to understand, first of all,” Carranza said about the process.
“How do you register? What is the difference between what you need to register
and what you need to vote? Where do you need to vote? And even when you go to
vote, even me who has voted for many, many years, it is confusing sometimes. In
the past primary, there were all of these choices. And you could only choose one
party and it was all across the board. It was very confusing. Imagine the people
who are new to voting. Instead of making the voting easier, they have made it
more difficult with all of the restrictions and all of the additional requirements. That’
s one of the things that we are doing, trying to inform and educate at the same time
as we are registering people and helping them to understand how they can get
what they need in order to vote.”

Carranza is very aware of how systems work and he doesn’t want Team LUChA to
supplicate others’ efforts or to “invade” other people’s turf. Team LUChA is meant
to fill a void within the existing structure while reaching a niche of voters.

“We have connected with the university kids,” Carranza said. “They have their
own voter registration drive. Some of our members have actually helped them
register voters, especially if they can identify some students of color, for example
and educate them why they should vote. We have connected in that way. We don’t
want to step on anyone’s toes. We would rather support and help. That’s what we
are trying to do. I have been thinking about the rules as it relates to us going to
high schools or outside the high schools and talk to students and say, ‘Hey, you
might be eligible to vote. Would you like to register? We can register you right
here, right now.’”

Team LUChA meets on the second Wednesday of each month at the Madison Labor
Temple. They welcome new members as they increase their level of activity
leading up to the November 6th election. For instance, they plan to do canvassing
in Southdale and other neighborhoods with a large Latino population. There is no
experience necessary.

“If people haven’t done this work before, we train them,” Carranza said. “Two
meetings ago, we did an official training for registering people given by the trainer
for the Democratic Party. He actually trained us on understanding what we have to
do, when we can help people, when we can’t help people because the rules have
changed. As you may recall, before, you could fill out the whole form for them and
then they would just have to sign. Now there are portions that they have to
complete. We can help them with it, but they have to complete it themselves.
There are a lot of rules. We were trained about those rules.”

Democracy only works when voters are engaged in the process. Team LUChA is
working hard to make sure that democracy works for the Latino community.

For more information, email Salvador Carranza at
salcandresen@yahoo.com or
visit Team LUChA’s Facebook page.