A new report released this morning confirms not a single state in the United States has a state legislature that truly reflects its population.
The report from the New Americans Leaders Project found that although Latino and Asian Americans make up 22 percent of the country’s population, they make up less than two percent of the more than 500,000 elected officials.
The New American Leaders Project describes itself as the only non-profit in the country that trains first and second generation immigrants to run for office. Barriers to better representation of Latinos and Asian Americans, according to NALP, include professional and financial barriers, lack of political networks and political experience and fear of failure.
The report says:
“Closing the representation gap matters: it goes straight to the health, legitimacy, and efficacy of our representative democracy. More diverse candidates on the ballot can boost voter participation, and more diverse representation can lead to more welcoming immigrant and immigration policy, which in turn boosts our economy.”
The states that most closely reflect their populations are Arizona, California, Hawaii and New Mexico. Each gets an A grade. Together the states have an average of 23 elected Latino officials and 17 Asian American state legislators. They would still need to increase the combined number of Latino and Asian American elected officials by 56 percent between now and 2020 to mirror their population.
However, 11 states get an F grade. Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and and West Virginia have no Latino or Asian American state legislator. On average they would need to elect 8 Latinos and 2 Asian Americans to reach parity.
You can read the entire report here.