Texas Redistricting has the press release.
Today, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and a number of Houston residentsfiled suit against Harris County in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas maintaining that Harris County officials wrongly rejected voter applications through discriminatory practices against Latino and African American applicants. Representing LULAC and the residents who filed suit are attorneys from the Campaign Legal Center, Project Vote, and Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn.
Among other things, LULAC filed the suit in an attempt to stop the discriminatory purging of registered Latino and Black voters in Harris County. In the petition, LULAC asserts the following claims:
- The changes in voting procedures by Harris County have not been pre-cleared by the United States Department of Justice or by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. These actions are “standards, practices and procedures” subject to the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c.
- Harris County has disproportionate higher percentage rates of rejected voter registration applications from minority citizens than from Anglo citizens resulting in discrimination against African-Americans and Latino citizens which is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973.
- Harris County’s voter purge program was based on faulty death matches and is in violation of Section 8(b)(1) of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-6(b)(I), which provides that any state or local program or activity designed to ensure the maintenance of accurate and current voter registration rolls “shall be uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
- Harris County acted with racially discriminatory intent in denying the right to vote of African-American persons in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- Harris County deprived a fundamental right to vote protected under the United States Constitution and the First Amendment.
“Harris County has used discriminatory practices in purging otherwise qualified voters and citing minor technicalities for rejecting their registration applications,” said LULAC National President Margaret Moran. “We filed the suit in order to stop these discriminatory practices. Our singular goal is to make sure that all qualified individuals have the opportunity to exercise their Constitutional protected right to vote in this year’s election.”
“Harris County has a lengthy and sad history of voter discrimination and regrettably the only way to bring it into compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution has been through court orders,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Campaign Legal Center Executive Director. “We hope this complaint will once again serve to bring the county into compliance with federal law and safeguard the rights of Latino and African American citizens.”
“Once again, Harris County zealously seeks to exclude people of color from the electoral process, thumbing its nose at federal statutes, the U.S. Constitution and the quintessentially American belief in one person one vote,” said Catherine M. Flanagan, Director of Election Administration for Project Vote.
The lawsuit is here, and a press release from Don Sumners is here. As you might imagine, he’s not terribly impressed. His main argument in his reply is that LULAC’s suit is mostly a rehash of the 2008 TDP lawsuit that led to a settlement in which the Tax Assessor’s office agreed that they would not automatically reject a voter application where the residence address given was determined to be a commercial address. LULAC claims they are not honoring that agreement, Sumners denies their claim. I have no reason to trust Sumners, so we’ll see what a judge has to say. The Chron story is here, and Stace has more.