Local groups in Texas have banded together to help prevent voting rights violations from happening in the state after the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which determined the states and local governments subject to extra federal scrutiny because of a history of past discrimination against ethnic minorities. Texas was one of the states required to appeal to the U.S. Department of Justice before changing state election laws.
The coalition consists of the NAACP, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the Anti-Defamation League.
“Our goal is to fill that vacuum,” said Nelson Linder of the Austin NAACP. “Because we are right and this is about integrity, I think we can prevail. We’re everywhere and we’re going to be there to put up a fight.”
At a press conference attended by Luci Baines Johnson, Nelson Linder, and the Texas Civil Right Project director (TCRP) Jim Harington, the TCRP announced the creation of a statewide Voting Rights Initiative.
The organization consists of attorneys — working pro bono — who will stand ready to file cases in state and federal court against local jurisdictions that make changes affecting minority rights. Amin Alehashem, the Houston Director of the TCRP, had this to say to when announcing the initiative:
“We are going to bring on an additional person dedicated solely to this issue, because Congress must act, but at this point and all the polls show, no one has faith in Congress, and we’re not waiting for Congress to act. We are going to make sure that we have eyes and ears on the ground, in order to ensure that one of your basic liberties and freedoms is the right to vote, and when you take that away, what freedom or right is really left?”
“Too many people have been murdered over the years fighting for the right to vote and too many have been brutally clubbed and beaten for us to sit back and let these oppressive measures tear at our democratic fabric,” said Jim Harington. “We owe it to those who have suffered and died and to our grandchildren to make democracy what it should be and assure that as many Texans as possible can vote without conjured-up impediments.”