Ms. Perales Discusses the State of the Right to Vote After the 2012 Election

WASHINGTON, DC – Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation, testified on December 19th, 2012 before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing titled, "The State of the Right to Vote After the 2012 Election." Ms. Perales joined Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Governor of Florida Charlie Crist, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, and South Carolina State Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter. Her comments focused on attempts in some states to limit the voting strength of minority voters.

Latinos are the largest racial minority group in the United States, having grown by over 15 million from 2000 to 2010. Although Latino registration and voting has increased steadily in recent years, Latinos continue to face significant challenges electing candidates of their choice in some states due to persistent voting discrimination.

MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, stated, "With the 2012 elections just over, it is still not too early to begin working to ensure that policies, resting on phantom concerns about voter fraud, whose real purpose and effect is to undermine democracy by restricting participation of eligible voters, are blocked and eliminated; we must take steps to ensure a vigorous and fair electoral process in 2014 and beyond."

Examples of recent state practices that operate to thwart new voters, including Latino voters, include an Arizona law that imposes burdensome paperwork requirements for newly-registered voters and targets naturalized citizens for additional steps in the registration process, strict voter identification laws in Texas and other states that make it particularly difficult for young and low-income voters to vote (by, for example, excluding university student ID cards from the list of acceptable ID), voter purges in some states aimed at recently naturalized citizens who registered to vote, and dilutive political redistricting.

Ms. Perales stated, "Instead of welcoming new Latino voters into the electorate, some states have reacted to demographic change by restricting their voter rolls and targeting new voters for burdensome paperwork requirements and unjustified investigations. Most of these discriminatory practices have been blocked in court, sending a strong message to states that they must play fair with new voters."

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Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," 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:

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