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2011.03.17 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

OLLAS Pens Data Brief on Latino Voting Eligibility, Impact in Nebraska

Omaha - The Office of Latino/Latin American Studies of the Great Plains (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) has released a data brief examining the extent to which Latinos in the state – and within specific districts and counties – are eligible to vote.

The brief, coauthored by Lourdes Gouveia and Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, utilizes estimates from both the 2010 Census and the recently published data from the 2005-09 American Community Survey (ACS).

Unlike the 2010 Census, the ACS includes questions about citizenship, which allowed the authors to estimate the percentage of Latinos of voting age, or near-voting age, who are citizens and thus eligible to vote in forthcoming elections.

"The report, which is suggestive of the potential impact of Latino population growth in future elections, is also particularly timely because Nebraska legislators will be engaged in a lively discussion about redistricting in the coming weeks and months," Gouveia said. "These are important decisions where party politics often play a significant role and where minority populations’ impact on future elections could be diluted if their numbers are seriously split across district boundaries."

While the impact of a new stream of Latino voters may not be felt at the level of congressional districts for some time, the same may not be true at the legislative district level. According to the report, in some of these districts, the Latino vote will significantly alter the electoral equation.

Legislative District 7 (South Omaha), for example, "is poised to become the first minority district in the state,” according to the report.

Benjamin-Alvarado contends that "this represents for Nebraska an intriguing question of sorts: To what extent is the political establishment in Omaha and Nebraska prepared to promote co-ethnic representation for the largest and fastest growing demographic group in the state? Issues of fair and equitable representation of Latino issues and interests are at stake."

The report can be found at the OLLAS website, www.unomaha.edu/ollas.

For more information, contact Benjamin-Alvarado (jalvarado@unomaha.edu) or Gouveia (lgouveia@unomaha.edu); or call the OLLAS office, (402) 554-3835.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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