In 2010, Arizona was ground zero for anti-immigrant sentiment and legislation, drawing national and even international headlines for SB 1070, the "show me your papers" law. Activists responded to form the nonpartisan One Arizona, aimed at promoting full electoral participation of Latino citizens, especially infrequent and first-time voters. Three years later, the coalition expanded to target young citizens and unmarried women while continuing to focus on voter registration, voter mobilization, and election protection.
How successful have One Arizona's efforts been to date, and where should it look in the future? This evaluation study aims to answer that question by drawing on 28 structured one-on-one key stakeholder interviews and a statistical analysis of five years of voter engagement and turnout results. It's also important to look back at the deep roots of the current climate for Latinos in Arizona, stretching back to the politically charged history of Mexican-American civic and political incorporation into the United States, and the disenfranchisement and racism that followed in the Southwest.
In the wake of SB 1070, ten community organizations—Arizona Advocacy Network (AZAN), Arizona Center for Empowerment (ACE), Border Action Network (BAN), Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy (CASE), Democracia USA (DUSA), Mi Familia Vota (MFV), Promise Arizona (PAZ), Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition (PAFCO), Puente Arizona (Puente), and Southwest Conference of United Church of Christ (UCC)—came together to form One Arizona, agreeing on a collaborative pact to ensure accountability and leverage the best from each community partner to increase civic engagement, power, and safety for the state's vulnerable Latino and immigrant communities. The new coalition, with initial seed funding from Four Freedoms Fund and later Unbound Philanthropy, was able to help the groups move beyond an unhealthy and competitive relationship to create a collaborative united movement focused on increasing Latino voter engagement, turnout, and power.
Seven core ingredients have allowed the One Arizona table to endure and remain effective:
1. Implementing nonpartisan year-round voter engagement strategies;
2. Staying focused on expanding the Latino electorate and increasing Latino power;
3. Serving as a neutral space where different roles and strategies are respected;
4. Establishing clear accountability mechanisms that bring order and structure;
5. Having funder partnerships that add value beyond grant dollars, including brokering timely, high-quality, and strategic capacity-building support;
6. Using data to inform and adjust field strategies; and
7. Staying on course to build long-term sustainable political power.