Welcome to another episode of Wisconsin Latino News Opinion+, where we talk about major issues the Latinx and other underrepresented communities face in the state of Wisconsin. This week’s guests include two members of the Milwaukee-based organization Wisconsin Voices: Co-Executive Director of Fundraising & Development Tim Schindler and Managing Director of Operations Nicole Winters.
Wisconsin Voices is a grassroots not-for-profit organization started in 2010 to protect democracy and encourage civic participation, particularly for those in marginalized groups statewide. Historically, Wisconsin is a state with high civic engagement, but stricter voter ID laws and other suppression strategies in recent years have challenged this reputation.
Schindler and Winters explain how their work with Wisconsin Voices aims to counter this trend in their state by “giving a voice to the voiceless.”
“There are individuals that just won’t use their voice for democracy,” Winters said. “It’s important because it makes a difference. It may not look that way in the end result, but when you are out there expressing your voice, using your voice to fight for democracy, it actually does make a difference.”
Schindler said that the organization tries to use education as one method of encouraging this participation.
“A lot of [people] don’t understand what’s the difference between an alderman and a county supervisor,” Schindler said. “So really empowering them and educating them on who to go to for what issue… that’s a lot of the impact that we’re trying to make.”
These goals from Wisconsin Voices are particularly applicable to the state’s Latino population, who, due to gerrymandering and strict voter ID laws, are underrepresented in local legislatures. According to Princeton University’s gerrymandering project, Wisconsin is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.
“There’s very minimal representation,” Schindler said. “Even when you look at the redistricting of Milwaukee, [Latinos] really don’t have much representation in every district in Milwaukee and even in the legislature. So that’s why it’s important for them to get their voices heard.”
Wisconsin Voices collaborates with numerous other local organizations to accomplish their broader goals of education and voter outreach. It measures success in a variety of ways, including voter turnout and overall residents reached.”
“If our partners engage with a large number of individuals and they can talk to them and educate them on the importance of using their voice, I think that’s the greatest measurement we could ever use,” Winters said.
Resources mentioned in this video
Wisconsin Voices: https://www.wisconsinvoices.org/
Wisconsin Voices Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089112562766
Information on Youth Advocacy: https://www.wisconsinvoices.org/donate/donate-youth-advocates-for-change-wisconsin-voices-program
Information on Voter Education: https://www.wisconsinvoices.org/donate/donate-voter-education
Wisconsin Voices current projects: https://www.wisconsinvoices.org/causes-overview