Texas Civil Rights Organizations Call Attorney General to Step Up Voting Rights Protections

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Dec. 12, 2011

CONTACT:
Jessica Gómez
Voting Rights Policy Specialist
512.454.2732
jgomez@disabilityrightstx.org

AUSTIN — Numerous Texas civil rights organizations are expected to call upon U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to increase voting rights protections in Texas and crack down on rights violations across the state during a planned presentation at The University of Texas at Austin on Dec. 13.

Holder will deliver remarks at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum on Tuesday, nearly half a century after President Johnson signed the landmark Voting Rights Act into law. Holder is expected to address the importance of ensuring equal access to the ballot box during his speech.

Disability Rights Texas, the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas, is calling upon Holder also to address voting rights protections for people with disabilities, including ease of access to polling locations and voting machines.

“The need to protect the minority electorate in Texas — including voters with disabilities — is critical to ensuring the full participation of all eligible voters,” said Jessica Gómez, voting rights policy specialist at Disability Rights Texas. According to Gómez, Texas continues to enact potentially discriminatory electoral reforms, including the much criticized mandatory photo identification legislation and redistricting maps that have decreased the number and percentage of minority opportunity districts in Texas.

Disability Rights Texas works with many Texas civil rights organizations on advancing voting rights, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), among others. Luis Figueroa of MALDEF stated, “The Voting Rights Act and other laws aimed at protecting the rights of the electorate are only as powerful as their enforcement,” and called upon the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stand up for the principles of the Voting Rights Act and not permit state officials to ignore its requirements.

“We look forward to Attorney General Holder’s remarks and hope they signal the DOJ’s commitment to ensuring that all eligible citizens can make their voices heard during the 2012 elections and beyond,” Gomez added.

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Disability Rights Texas (previously named Advocacy Inc.) is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas. Our mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society.