MALDEF OPPOSES DISCRIMINATORY VOTING CHANGE PASSED BY TEXAS TOWN
Pasadena, Texas Dilutes Latino Voting Strength Post Supreme Court Voting Rights Decision
SAN ANTONIO, TX-Last night, the town of Pasadena, Texas narrowly passed a measure known as Proposition 1 that would reduce its eight single-member voting districts to six, and create two at-large seats. MALDEF previously expressed opposition to the proposition in a letter to Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell. You can view the letter here. Prior to the June 2013 United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby County, AL v. Holder, which removed the requirement that Texas’ voting changes be pre-cleared by the federal government, Proposition 1 would likely have been blocked under the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA).
“This bald attempt to limit the ability of Latinos to participate equally in governing Pasadena simply cannot stand under any notion of civil and constitutional rights. The city will reap the whirlwind,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel.
The Latino population of Pasadena has grown significantly over the past decade - from 48.2 percent to 61.6 percent of the city's total population. Latino voters are also approaching the level of population at which they will be able to elect their candidate of choice in a substantial number of City Council districts under the current eight single member districts. Reducing the number of single member districts from eight to six will make it more difficult for Latino voters to reach majority status in the districts and may eliminate their ability to elect any candidate of choice to the City Council.
“Pasadena is taking steps to cut back Latino voting strength just as the Latino population is growing,” stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation. “MALDEF will monitor this situation closely in order to defend the right of Pasadena Latino voters to exercise the franchise,” continued Perales.
Similar Texas proposals have been found discriminatory by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and were blocked. For example, in December 2012, DOJ denied a proposal by Beaumont Independent School District in Jefferson County, Texas, which would have reduced the number of single-member districts from seven to five, and created two at-large positions.
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: www.maldef.org.