Report Aimed at Removing Doubt that Discrimination Still Exists and Shows that Nation's Fastest Growing Voter Segment Needs Reinvigorated Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON, DC - Two weeks before the one-year anniversary of the infamous Shelby County v Holder Supreme Court decision, which dealt a severe blow to every American's voting rights by incapacitating a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), and National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), today released a new policy report that details the far-reaching discrimination faced by Latino voters in recent election cycles. A copy of the report can be viewed here.

"This report demonstrates that the Voting Rights Act, in its full strength and efficacy, remains a central element of protecting the right to vote," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "Reinvigorating the Voting Rights Act through amendments to serve modern needs is particularly important to the Latino community as its growing voting strength is increasingly seen as a threat by established political powers, who then regrettably choose to target the Latino vote for suppression."

The report, "Latinos and the VRA: A Modern Fix for Modern-Day Discrimination" underscores the need for Congress to move legislatively on updating the Voting Rights Act in response to Shelby County. As one of the most prominent defenders of voting rights in the court system nationwide, MALDEF, last January, welcomed the introduction of bipartisan congressional legislation to redress the deplorable Supreme Court decision last summer. The bill, HR 3899, The Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA), currently has 25 bipartisan cosponsors.

The pre-clearance process and obligation in section 5 of the VRA had, for nearly half a century, ably served to timely secure and ensure the voting rights of all. The prevalence of schemes targeted at limiting the growth of Latino voting power, documented in the report, demonstrates the ongoing need for an efficient and timely mechanism to prevent voting discrimination. The report thus presents a strong case for swift action - before another election cycle goes by - in reinvigorating the pre-clearance process. MALDEF has been advocating for a vigorous legislative process that results in the best possible legislation being sent to the President's desk in 2014.

However, despite strong bipartisan support for the bill, little has been done in Congress to turn that bill into law. MALDEF and its partners called on House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), to move the process forward by ending his refusal to schedule a hearing on the bill. The Congress should hear the data on discrimination, such as that in the report, and debate the most efficacious legislation to address it.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

For all media inquiries, please contact Larry Gonzalez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund