This year we will witness a historic election in which Latino voters will play a crucial role.
At least 9 million Latino voters are expected to vote on November 4, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF will be working hard to protect the rights of Latino voters everywhere, through an unprecedented voter assistance and protection project.
Please read on for more information on our voter protection efforts.
In This Issue
How LatinoJustice PRLDEF Is Protecting Your Right to Vote
- Voter Protection
- Voter Assistance
- Poll Monitoring
- Voter Registration
How LatinoJustice PRLDEF Is Protecting Your Right to Vote
Unprecedented voter assistance and protection project protects rights of all Latino voters LatinoJustice PRLDEF is protecting the rights of Latino voters everywhere through an unprecedented voter assistance and protection project. LatinoJustice PRLDEF attorneys have been working on a number of different efforts that will assist Latino voters and protect their right to participate in the 2008 elections in the days leading up to, during and after Election Day.
Latino voters will play a crucial role in this year's election. At least 9.2 million Latino voters will go out to the polls on November 4, according to the National Association of Latino elected Officials (NALEO).
This 9.2 million would be a record, and a 21% increase from 2004, according to the NALEO report. But this 9.2 million is "merely a floor." Latino turnout could be even higher, because of interest in such issues as immigration.
We will be on the ground and at the polls LatinoJustice PRLDEF is working to ensure that the important role Latino voters will play in this historic election is in no way diminished. Our efforts encompass voter protection, voter assistance, voter monitoring and voter registration.
One of the ways we are doing this is by making sure polling places comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.
A multi-state cadre of lawyers and law firms working together with LatinoJustice PRLDEF attorneys will be on the ground in several cities on Election Day, to ensure that poll workers and facilities comply with the Voting Rights Act. They will also make sure that Latino voters are not intimidated and their votes are not suppressed.
The Voting Rights Act requires that certain states and localities accommodate "language minorities" who speak languages other than English. Provisions of the act that that apply directly to Latino voters include:
Under Section 4(e), election districts are required to make bilingual election materials and assistance available to any voter born in Puerto Rico who is not proficient in English and seeks assistance.
Under Section 208, any voter of any background who is disabled, elderly or unable to read English has the right to request assistance or to bring someone into the polling booth to help the voter cast his or her vote.
Under Section 203, election districts are required to make bilingual election materials and assistance available in certain jurisdictions with high minority populations that have been identified by the DOJ and the Census Bureau.
Currently, over 500 political jurisdictions in the U.S. are covered under Section 203.
Voters who have questions about their rights under the Voting Rights Act, or who want to complain about a lack of bilingual assistance can also seek direct help from LatinoJustice PRLDEF through the national Ve-y-Vota hotline.
The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and the National Campaign for Fair Elections, have partnered with LatinoJustice PRLDEF to organize a Spanish-language voter protection call center in NYC that will field calls from Spanish-speaking voters from across the Eastern United States.
On November 3 and November 4 (Election Day), Spanish-speaking voters can call 1-888-Ve-y-Vota, a bilingual, toll-free national voter information and protection hotline. The hotline can answer simple calls such as "where is my polling place?" as well as complex issues dealing with machine malfunctions, eligible voters who are turned away, and instances of voter intimidation and deception.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF attorneys overseeing the hotline will be documenting voting rights complaints and any obstacles to voting encountered by Latino voters.
"We will document any voting rights violations encountered by Latino voters and if necessary will take legal action against those states and localities that fail to comply with the Voting Rights Act and other laws," said JosÈ PÈrez, Associate General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
The recent passage of stringent voting requirements by several states will undoubtedly disproportionably disenfranchise many Latinos. Unjustified delays in processing voter registration applications has also added to this disenfranchisement.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF has called on the U.S. Attorney General to deploy federal monitors to several jurisdictions that have passed some of these new laws, and where Latino voter suppression and intimidation has been documented in the past.
Last week, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice announced it will send 800 federal observers and justice department staff to jurisdictions in 23 states on Election Day.
"I think we can fairly say our letter and advocacy contributed to DOJ's determination to send out monitors," said PRLDEF attorney Diana Sen.
Latinos have registered in record numbers for this year's election, and the young leaders of LatinoJustice PRLDEF's civic engagement network witnessed this firsthand when they registered new citizens at New York City naturalization ceremonies.
Over a five-week period, from September 12, through October 10, young activists registered approximately 2,000 new immigrant voters at New York's Eastern District Courthouse in Brooklyn.
The project aimed to foster leadership in young people, as to well as promote an interest in voting rights. Many of the volunteers expressed an interest in continuing to work on the effort, by serving as poll monitors and working for our Ve-y-Vota hotline.
Honoring our legacy of protecting Latinos' rights at the polls LatinoJustice PRLDEF has worked for decades to protect Latinos' right to vote. In
1973 LatinoJustice PRLDEF sued the city of New York to force the city to provide language assistance in the form of Spanish-language election materials, ballots and Spanish-speaking election officials at the polling stations. The precedent set in that court victory became the pillar of an amendment to the Voting Rights Act in 1975 which protected the voting rights of all Puerto Ricans who are United States citizens by birth.
"LatinoJustice PRLDEF has a long legacy of safeguarding Latinos' rights at the polls," said Cesar Perales, President and General Counsel. "There are now over 9 million registered Latino voters in this country, and we will continue to make sure that those voters have every tool they need to exercise their right to vote."
If you have any questions or concerns about your polling place, call our voter protection hotline: 1-888-Ve-y-Vota.