MALDEF Vigilant on Election Day

Attorneys will continue to block voter intimidation and disenfranchisement efforts

November 04, 2008

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization, has mounted a national voter protection campaign against voter intimidation tactics and unconstitutional verification procedures that remove legally registered U.S. citizens from voter rolls. As we have neared Election Day, MALDEF has brought two voter protection lawsuits, one in New Mexico and another in Georgia.

Last week, MALDEF won a historic court ruling ending the State of Georgia’s illegal attempt to use an unlawful verification check that would have denied the right to vote for thousands of citizens. Georgia’s unlawful screening used flawed verifications procedures that primarily affected ethnic and minority voters, naturalized and U.S. born, and resulted in the inaccurate flagging of U.S. citizens as non-citizens, and the removal of one’s name from voter rolls.

The court found that the State of Georgia had violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to obtain the Department of Justice's approval prior to implementing the voting changes, and ordered Secretary of State Karen C. Handel to “make diligent and immediate efforts to notify, in a uniform manner, every person whose voter registration presently remains flagged.”

In other voting litigation this month, MALDEF filed a federal lawsuit against a local attorney and a private investigator that have waged a campaign of voter intimidation in New Mexico. MALDEF represents three properly registered Latino voters who have been subject to public accusations of illegal voter registration and intimidation tactics that included threats to call federal immigration authorities. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Martha Vázquez heard MALDEF’s request for a temporary restraining order in the case.

“In this election, we are seeing new attempts to suppress the right to vote of U.S. citizens,” stated MALDEF Director of Litigation Cynthia Valenzuela. “Throughout the country on Election Day, MALDEF attorneys, in coalition with others civil rights organizations, will be monitoring early voting stations and polling places to ensure that all citizens are not discriminatorily denied their right to vote,” she added.

MALDEF’s national and regional offices have partnered with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law to coordinate two main national voter protection efforts, 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota and 1-866-OUR-VOTE, and will be available to field calls received on the hotlines as well as provide legal advice. MALDEF attorneys will also be vigilantly monitoring the polls and litigating in the courtrooms to ensure that all eligible voters make their vote count in today’s historic elections.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund