WASHINGTON - The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) filed a motion in Washington yesterday to intervene on behalf of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force in an effort to prevent the reduction of Latino voting strength in the ongoing Texas redistricting process.
In the case, State of Texas v. Holder, Texas asks the federal government to approve, or “pre-clear,” four redistricting plans.
Under Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, states with a history of discrimination must have their redistricting plans approved by the federal government to ensure that the ability of minorities to elect a candidate of their choice is not diminished.
The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force has intervened to ask the federal court to deny preclearance of the state House plan and the congressional plan.
Under the state House plan, Latinos would lose two opportunity districts, and under the congressional plan, the proportion of Latino opportunity districts would fall from 22 percent to 19 percent of the congressional delegation. According to the 2010 census, 34 percent of the voting-age population in Texas is Latino.
“The Task Force has intervened in this case to protect Latino voting strength in Texas,” said Nina Perales, vice president of litigation at MALDEF. “We have sued the State in federal court in San Antonio for violations of the Voting Rights Act; the State cannot run to Washington DC in the hopes of getting a different ruling.”
MALDEF, the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, and other partners submitted proposed district lines for Latino opportunity districts to the State Capitol in Austin during the Legislative Session.
“Our goal is to ensure that Latinos have the opportunity to send a representative of their choice to Congress, especially where they make up a substantial portion of a region,” explained Perales.