Latino voters said no to 31
Hispanic-heavy areas rejected proposal for English immersion
By Nancy Mitchell, Rocky Mountain News
November 7, 2002
Early indicators show Hispanic voters helped defeat Amendment 31, overwhelmingly
rejecting the measure in select Denver
neighborhoods and in heavily Hispanic counties across Colorado.
In Denver's three most heavily Hispanic neighborhoods, voters by a 2-to-1 margin
turned down the ballot measure
requiring yearlong English-immersion programs for children who speak little
And in counties across Colorado, from the San Luis Valley to the urban Front
Range, a pattern emerged - higher numbers
of Hispanic residents typically translated into more "no" votes on 31.
"We knew this was striking at the heart of the identity of our people," said
Ramon Del Castillo, who led a coalition of
Denver-area Hispanic activists against the measure. "It was a sweet victory."
Castillo chaired La Gente, which partnered with English Plus, the group leading
the No on 31 campaign. Another Hispanic
organization, the Latin American Research and Service Agency, also worked with
"I think the question that Latinos had was, 'Why do you want to eliminate our
options and let us have only one way of
helping our kids learn English?' " said Polly Baca, executive director of LARASA.
"We knew the negative impact of 31 on
our Latino community and our kids."
In Massachusetts, where voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a similar
English-immersion ballot question, Hispanic
voters also said no. Exit polls by the University of Massachusetts show 92
percent of nearly 600 Hispanic voters questioned
voted down the measure.
Similar exit polling was not conducted in Colorado. Nor do state elections
officials track voting by race or ethnicity.
That means analysis must come by other methods.
To get a glimpse of Hispanic voting trends on 31, the Rocky Mountain News
compared county demographics from the
2000 census with Tuesday's votes by county.
The News also examined voting on 31 at 10 precincts in Denver's most heavily
Hispanic neighborhoods, based on census
John Britz, English Plus consultant, said the findings are no surprise. "Our
polling indicated, in large numbers, 85
percent-plus Latino households were opposed to 31 in Colorado," he said.
Not all metro-area counties followed the trend. Adams County narrowly approved
the measure, despite having the state's
15th-highest percentage of Hispanic residents. And El Paso County, with just 4
percent Hispanic residents, soundly