- Julianna Pacheco
- Nicholas Salazar
- Nicole Novak
Research Project Description
Public health scholars have long known that civic participation contributes directly and indirectly to community health. Democracy makes our communities more inclusive and healthier. Conversely, structural racism-particularly in the form of voter suppression laws-creates barriers to full participation in the political process. These barriers contribute to inequity in community health among people of color. In 2021 the state of Iowa passed a bill, SF413, that imposes barriers to early voting, absentee voting, and poll access. This project will partner with local councils of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation's oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization, to document the impacts of this bill on voter turnout for Latinos across Iowa's 99 counties. Results will inform local efforts to promote inclusive, healthy communities with equitable political power and voice.
Our primary research questions are:
- How do voter suppression bills like SF413 affect voting and civic engagement for Latino communities in Iowa?
- How can communities mitigate or dismantle barriers to civic engagement?
- How are civic engagement and political participation related to community health for Latino communities in Iowa?
We will use a mixed-methods design that combines quantitative analysis of voter files with qualitative research designed in partnership with an advisory board of leaders from LULAC councils throughout the state. The quantitative study will use a difference-in-differences design to document changes in turnout before and after SF413 and whether these changes differ by race/ethnicity. We will identify geographic areas where changes in voter turnout were particularly large or small. The qualitative study will be designed with a LULAC advisory board and will be informed by the quantitative findings. Potential topics include barriers and facilitators to civic engagement, and the role of health concerns in mobilizing political participation.
Julianna Pacheco has a PhD in political science and postdoctoral training as an RWJ Health and Society Scholar. She was among the first to examine how health shapes political participation, most notably finding that poor health reduces turnout. She was also the first to subsequently document the consequences of health-based inequalities in political voice, finding that the preferences of those in good health dominate the policy-making process.
Nick Salazar is the State Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa. He was previously Deputy State Director for Young Adults and the president of LULAC Council 371 in Muscatine, Iowa. He has been a leader in grassroots community organizing, electoral campaigns, and multiple community-based organizations. In addition to his work as a community and political organizer, Nick is a Supply Chain Manager at KraftHeinz .
Nicole Novak has a MSc in medical anthropology, a PhD in epidemiology, and postdoctoral training in community-based participatory research. She uses epidemiological and community-engaged methods to study upstream determinants of health for Iowa's Latino and migrant communities, including the health impacts of immigration enforcement and community-driven efforts to promote inclusion such as immigrant-inclusive local ID cards.