LULAC TAKES FEDERAL COURT ACTION AGAINST TEXAS VOTER SUPPRESSION

Nation’s Largest and Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization Moves To Stop SB1 Signed Into Law by Governor Greg Abbott

Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today issued the following statement in taking federal court action after the passage and signing of Texas SB1. LULAC and its legal team of Domingo Garcia and Luis Roberto Vera Jr., filed together in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division with its attorneys, Mark Elias and Uzoma N. Nkwonta. LULAC, Voto Latino, Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, and Texas AFT are urging declaratory and injunctive relief against Texas elections officials because the new voting restrictions violate the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and will have a severe and disproportionate impact on Hispanics, blacks, and other communities of color.

“LULAC strongly opposes this attack on our voting rights and freedoms because they have one and only one purpose; to dilute our voice at the ballot box and continue to stop electoral change in Texas,” says Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “Texas voters deserve fair, open, and transparent elections, not a process rigged to deny our communities whose numbers are growing, the right to vote,” he added.

In their filing, the plaintiffs state, “Rather than celebrate this record-setting turnout and apply these innovations to remedy Texas’s historic suppression of minority voters, the Texas Legislature has instead chosen to write the latest chapter in the State’s long, troubling history of discrimination and disenfranchisement. Initially, the Legislature attempted to pass a voter suppression bill known as Senate Bill 7 (“SB 7”), which not only restricted almost every aspect of voting in Texas—including the methods used by minority voters to achieve 2020’s historic turnout—but also made it easier to overturn election results. This effort failed only because members of the Texas House of Representatives left the legislative chamber in protest, denying the Legislature the quorum needed “to pass the bill before the conclusion of the regular legislative session.”

Attorneys Mark Elias and Uzoma Nkwonta are counsel for the plaintiffs. “SB 1 is the latest chapter in Texas Republican leaders' ongoing assault on our democracy, and we must hold them accountable. We will do everything in our power to combat these unconstitutional voter suppression laws and help citizens vote."

Also stated in the legal motion: “But during a second special session, through a series of harried, controversial, and undemocratic maneuvers, the Legislature ultimately enacted SB 1, an omnibus voter suppression bill that burdens voters, restricts access to the franchise, and targets the very measures that communities of color disproportionately relied on to increase turnout in 2020 and other recent elections. See generally SB 1, 87th Leg., Second Called Sess. (Tex. 2021). Among its unlawful provisions that restrict access to the ballot box (the “Suppressive Provisions”), SB 1:

  1. Criminalizes efforts by public officials to encourage voters to submit absentee ballot applications
  2. Imposes additional burdens on absentee voters by effectively eliminating ballot drop boxes;
  3. Eliminates drive-thru voting;
  4. Creates additional obstacles for voters to receive assistance at the polls or in completing and submitting absentee ballots;
  5. Limits early voting hours; and
  6. Empowers partisan poll watchers to employ voter intimidation tactics by granting them increased freedom in the polling place and limiting the oversight power of election workers.

The Legislature enacted SB 1 not to preserve election integrity or combat election fraud—after all, the State’s own election officials have acknowledged that elections in Texas are already secure—but rather to stem the growing tide of minority voter participation by weaponizing the false, repeatedly debunked accusations of widespread voter fraud advanced by supporters of former President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election. It is no coincidence that SB 1 passed just months after Texas state officials tried and failed to overturn the presidential election results and disenfranchise millions of voters in other states.

Because the Suppressive Provisions cannot be justified by any legitimate (much less compelling) state interests, their burdensome and disenfranchising effects violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. And because these provisions were intended to impose a particular burden on Texas’s Black and Latino communities—exacerbating the marginalization caused by more than a century of discriminatory practices undertaken by both the State and its citizens—SB 1 further violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

The defendants in the legal action are Jose Esparza, Acting Texas Secretary of State; Jose Salvador Tellez, Webb County Elections Administrator; Jacquelyn F. Callanen, Bexar County Elections Administrator; Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County Clerk; Isabel Longoria, Harris County Elections Administrator; Yvonne Ramon, Hidalgo County Elections Administrator; Michael Scarpello, Dallas County Elections Administrator; and Lisa Wise, El Paso County Elections Administrator. Click here to read the complaint.

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About LULAC
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/

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