On a registration roll
Enlistando registros

On a registration roll

Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer

The non-partisan organization Dominicanos USA has focused efforts on voter registration in New York


That is the number of Dominicans in New York State eligible in 2012 to vote – out of a general population of 762,000 Dominican residents in the state.

It is a determinative number that could change the course of any election.

And it might well play a decisive role in the imminent Congressional primaries to be held on June 24th, when State Senator Adriano Espaillat faces off against incumbent Charles B. Rangel in his bid to become the first member of Congress of Dominican descent.

Now, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) is seeking to build on that number.

The recently formed non-partisan organization has announced that its voter registration efforts in New York and Rhode Island will be replicated in other areas with robust Dominican and Dominican-American populations.

The group said it has already registered 21,000 voters since becoming active in New York – and it showed up in full force at 170th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue this past Wed., May 21st to tout its results and explain ongoing efforts.

“We’re not concentrated on a particular candidate,” said Eddie Cuesta, DUSA Coordinator in New York.

“We hit the streets to accomplish our mission,” said DUSA canvasser Josue Pérez.

He noted that in Providence, Rhode Island, the group had registered 5,000 voters.

It has been reported that the registration drive is backed financially by Grupo Vicini, headed by the wealthy Vicini family, which is involved in the sugar industry, and that Grupo Vicini is expected to invest $3.5 million in DUSA by 2016.

The group’s representatives said it has canvassed all neighborhoods, and would continue to do so.
“It’s a cross-section of the community,” added Cuesta. “We have touched every zip code in the city.”
Though DUSA will register any who are eligible to vote, it is specifically seeking out Dominican voters in order to amplify the group’s collective electoral clout.

“For too long, the Dominican–American community has stood on the side-lines without a voice while others made decisions that were impacting our community and our families,” said Manuel Matos, attorney, community leader, and DUSA board member who also serves as the group’s spokesperson.

“It made perfect sense to start our focus in these two places where our community has lived, worked, and thrived for years, yet has not fulfilled its civic and political potential to have a say in the city’s political and policy affairs,” he added. “Dominicanos USA will help ensure more Dominican Americans contribute their grain of sand on the American beachhead of civic and political responsibility.”

DUSA has already registered 21,000 voters in New York.
DUSA has already registered 21,000 voters in New York.

The organization is combining boots-on-the ground methods with new technology to help pinpoint Dominican voters.

DUSA will use algorithms provided by two data companies, Catalist and Amicus, to help identify where it is expected that Dominican residents would be living. DUSA then seeks out individuals at their addresses.

“Wherever Dominicans are, we’ll find them,” said Cuesta.

Natalia Rosa, DUSA Rhode Island Coordinator, said database information “focuses on where they’re (Dominicans) are eating, where they’re playing, where they’re attending school.”

While the Dominican American community in Rhode Island is smaller than in New York, it is the fastest growing and the largest ethnic group in the state.

“This is only the beginning,” said Natalia Rosa, DUSA’s Rhode Island Coordinator.

“We are committed to deploying this outreach in all corners of the country where Dominican American citizens have founded communities and spread roots,” explained Rosa. “This is only the beginning; we aim to expand to other heavily Dominican cities and states as we grow the effort nationally.”

The companies glean information from public records and even Facebook in order to identify link potential Dominican connections.

Once the May 30th registration deadline has passed to be eligible for the June 24th congressional primary, DUSA will shift its focus to getting out the vote.

“It is not your right, it is your responsibility to vote,” said Cuesta.

Josue Pérez, 24, is one of the canvassers that will make sure Dominicans are registered and voting.

Representatives set up at 170th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

For the past eight months, through wind, rain, snow and sun, he has traveled throughout the five boroughs registering voters.

Pérez said the canvassers’ determination does not drop with temperatures.

“It gets a little harder [in the cold], but we put our coats on and hit the streets to accomplish our mission,” he said.

Pérez has been zeroing in on apartment buildings of potentially unregistered voters, addresses he receives from Catalist and Amicus. He said that people are, in fact, often receptive to receiving strangers in their homes.

“This one guy told me he was all set (with registration), but he thanked me for what I was doing and gave me a hug.”


DominicanosUSA – Increasing Latino Voter Participation

  • Dominicanos USA is a non-partisan organization established to empower, educate, and mobilize Dominican – Americans to become registered and get out to vote.
  • As of today, the organization has registered more than 25,000 new voters in New York and in Rhode Island, the first states where the organization is rolling out its efforts.
  • Dominicanos USA was founded a year ago by a group of Latino leaders in order to speak to a growing population of Americans eager to participate in their civic duty but that had not been tapped in a culturally relevant or meaningful way.
  • The goal of Dominicanos USA is to empower more Dominican Americans voters, which in the end will benefit the American political democratic process.
  • While everyone Dominicanos USA comes into contact with is encouraged to register and no one is turned away, the focus is on registering more Dominican Americans who are enthusiastic about doing their share and more fully participating in the American Dream.


DomicanosUSA Voting Numbers in NYC:

  • Total Latino Population NYC – 2,336,076
  • Latinos in NYC are 28.6% of the population
  • NYC Dominican population – approx. 750,000
  • Total Dominican eligible registered voters– 244,779
  • Dominican American Voter Turnout – 45,229
  • The percentage of Dominican American turnout in Mayoral ’13 election – 18%
  • DUSA registrations to date are 26,000 and counting
  • Impact on total Dominican registrations- Increase by 4%


Catalist Dominican-American Model

  • A model that predicts the relative likelihood that a given individual in the New York metro area is of Dominican origin.
  • The Dominican-American model is based on all data residing at Catalist, and relies especially upon the first, middle, and last names of the individual; trusted sources of Census data; and other individual-level demographics.
  • Model assigns to each individual a score from 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents the highest relative likelihood that the individual is Dominican-American.


Overall, these numbers show that there is still a great need to improve voter turnout among Dominican-Americans not only in NYC, but also throughout the country. Latinos, as a whole, also have a lower voting turnout than their registrations. As a result, Dominicanos USA will stay committed to ensure that the Dominican-American community continues to increase their voting participation throughout the country.

Enlistando registros

Historia y fotos por Robin Elisabeth Kilmer


Ese es el número de dominicanos elegibles para votar en 2012 en el estado de Nueva York, de una población general de 762,000 dominicanos residentes en el estado.

Es un número determinante que podría cambiar el curso de cualquier elección.

Y bien podría jugar un papel decisivo en las inminentes primarias del Congreso que se celebrarán el 24 de junio, cuando el senador estatal Adriano Espaillat se enfrente al titular Charles B. Rangel, en su intento por convertirse en el primer miembro del Congreso de origen dominicano.

Ahora, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) está tratando de aprovechar ese número.

La organización no partidista de reciente formación, ha anunciado que sus esfuerzos de registro de votantes en Nueva York y Rhode Island se replicarán en otras áreas con robustas poblaciones dominicana y dominicano-americanas.

El grupo dijo que ya ha registrado 21 mil votantes desde que se volvió activo en Nueva York, y apareció con toda su fuerza en la calle 170 y la avenida St. Nicholas, el pasado miércoles 21 de mayo para promocionar sus resultados y explicar los esfuerzos en curso.

“No nos concentramos en un candidato en particular”, dijo Eddie Cuesta, coordinador DUSA en Nueva York.

“Llegamos a las calles para llevar a cabo nuestra misión”, dijo el agente electoral de DUSA Josué Pérez.

Señaló que, en Providence, Rhode Island, el grupo ha registrado 5,000 votantes.

Se ha informado que la campaña de registro está respaldada financieramente por el Grupo Vicini, encabezado por la pudiente familia Vicini, que está involucrada en la industria azucarera, y se espera que el Grupo Vicini invierta $3.5 millones de dólares en DUSA en 2016.

Los representantes del grupo dijeron que han hecho campaña en todos los barrios, y que continuarán haciéndolo.

“Es una sección transversal de la comunidad”, agregó Cuesta. “Hemos tocado cada código postal en la ciudad”.

Aunque DUSA registrará a cualquiera que sea elegible para votar, está buscando específicamente a los votantes dominicanos con el fin de amplificar el peso electoral colectivo del grupo.

“Durante mucho tiempo, la comunidad dominicano-americana se ha mantenido en los líneas laterales sin voz, mientras que otros toman las decisiones que estuvieron afectando a nuestra comunidad y nuestras familias”, dijo Manuel Matos, abogado, líder comunitario, y miembro del consejo de DUSA quien también se desempeña como portavoz del grupo.

“Tenía perfecto sentido iniciar nuestro enfoque en estos dos lugares en los que nuestra comunidad ha vivido, trabajado y prosperado durante años, pero que aún no ha alcanzado su potencial cívico y político para tener voz y voto en los asuntos políticos y de políticas de la ciudad”, agregó . “Dominicanos USA ayudará a asegurarse de que más estadounidenses dominicanos aporten su grano de arena en la playa de desembarco americano de la responsabilidad cívica y política”.

DUSA has already registered 21,000 voters in New York.
DUSA tiene ya registrados a 21,000 votantes en Nueva York.

La organización es la combinación de métodos dirigidos con nuevas tecnologías para ayudar a identificar a los votantes dominicanos.

DUSA utilizará algoritmos proporcionados por dos empresas de datos, Catalist y Amicus, para ayudar a identificar en dónde están viviendo los residentes dominicanos. DUSA entonces busca a las personas en sus direcciones.

“Dondequiera que los dominicanos estén, los encontraremos”, dijo Cuesta.

Natalia Rosa, coordinadora DUSA en Rhode Island, dijo que la información de la base de datos “se centra en dónde (los dominicanos) están comiendo, dónde están jugando, dónde están asistiendo a la escuela”.

"Durante demasiado tiempo, la comunidad dominicano-americana se ha mantenido en las líneas laterales", dijo el portavoz de DUSA, Manuel Matos.
“Durante demasiado tiempo, la comunidad dominicano-americana se ha mantenido en las líneas laterales”, dijo el portavoz de DUSA, Manuel Matos.

Aunque la comunidad americana dominicana de Rhode Island es menor que en Nueva York, es la de más rápido crecimiento y el grupo étnico más grande del estado.

“Estamos comprometidos con esta implementación en todos los rincones del país donde los ciudadanos estadounidenses dominicanos han fundado comunidades y ext

endido raíces”, explicó Rosa “Esto es sólo el principio, pretendemos expandirnos a otras ciudades y estados densamente dominicanos conforme crecemos el esfuerzo a nivel nacional”.

Las empresas obtienen información de registros públicos, e incluso de Facebook, con el fin de identificar las potenciales conexiones y vínculos dominicanos.

Una vez que la fecha límite de inscripción, 30 de mayo, haya pasado para ser elegible para la primaria del Congreso del 24 de junio, DUSA cambiará su enfoque para conseguir el voto.
“No es su derecho, es su responsabilidad de votar”, dijo Cuesta.

Josué Pérez de 24 años, es uno de los agentes electorales que se asegurará de que los dominicanos estén registrados y voten.

Durante los últimos ocho meses, a través del viento, la lluvia, la nieve y el sol, él ha viajado por los cinco distritos registrando votantes.

“Es su responsabilidad el votar”, dijo Eddie Cuesta, coordinador de DUSA Nueva York.

Pérez dijo que la determinación de los agentes electorales no disminuye con las temperaturas.
“Se vuelve un poco más difícil [en el frío], pero nos ponemos nuestros abrigos y salimos a la calle para llevar a cabo nuestra misión”, dijo.

Pérez ha estado reduciendo a cero los edificios de departamentos de los votantes potenciales no registrados, direcciones que recibe de Catalist y Amicus. Dijo que la gente está, de hecho, a menudo receptiva a recibir a extraños en sus hogares.

“Este tipo me dijo que estaba listo (tenía ya el registro), pero me agradeció por lo que estaba haciendo y me dio un abrazo”.

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