Voter Protection Efforts
Across the country, MALDEF has been working hard to secure unfettered access to voter registration materials and to the polling booths for all U.S. citizens. Two recent victories came in the reauthorization of the federal Voting Rights Act and the rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court of gerrymandered Texas districts that diluted the votes of hundreds of thousands of Latinos.
MALDEF is a staunch advocate of voters’ rights. In recent years, it has fought against voter identification laws in both state legislatures. In the U.S. Supreme Court, and it has weighed in on a number of other proposed rules and regulations concerning elections, including laws that would prohibit the photocopying of voter registration applications and that would change vote-by-mail elections. MALDEF has also sought to enforce existing election laws and has called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate charges of voter intimidation at the polls.
It is critical that the public know about their rights and responsibilities as voters. To this end, MALDEF has staffed election protection hotlines and information tables and ensured that important election information is translated into Spanish. On April 16, 2008, MALDEF’s D.C. office co-convened a roundtable discussion regarding legislative strategy to follow the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford upholding Indiana’s voter identification law.
For the recent 2008 election cycle, each of the MALDEF regional and national offices devoted significant time and attention on voter protection before and during the November election. MALDEF had sent letters to election officials reminding them of their obligation to provide language assistance. MALDEF identified key states with high Latino citizen voting age populations, such as Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Arizona, and also identified areas of heavy concentration of Latino registered voters in each of those key states. MALDEF worked with other lawyers, law students, and community advocates to monitor election day activities and to ensure fair access to the polls. Our attorneys across the nation also participated in election protection hotlines including NALEO’s "Ve y Vota."