Shelby Decision Hurts Asian American Voters, Groups Tell Senate Committee

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013

Shelby Hearing.jpgWASHINGTON--Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) jointly submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Wednesday hearing titled, "From Selma to Shelby County: Working Together to Restore the Protections of the Voting Rights Act." The hearing will explore the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision last month in Shelby County v. Holder, in which the Court struck down the coverage formula provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

"I applaud Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley for holding this important hearing to examine the effect of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby to strike down one of the key provisions of the Voting Rights Act," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Advancing Justice-AAJC. "Our work over the years protecting the voting rights of Asian Americans tells us that the loss of the VRA's protection will leave many vulnerable to attacks on their right to vote. We stand ready to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner to protect the real people affected by this decision."

Advancing Justice and AALDEF's testimony reveals how Asian Americans continue to face pervasive discrimination in voting, particularly in jurisdictions previously covered for Section 5 preclearance. These voting barriers will only grow more severe following the Shelby decision. Discrimination against Asian American voters is an ongoing problem, as evidenced by the fact that many examples occurred within the last decade. These examples include efforts to effectively exclude Asian American voters from the political process through redistricting, changes to voting systems, and changes to polling site locations without notice to voters in areas with heavy Asian American populations. The testimony describes how many of the tools used to combat these discriminatory efforts will no longer be available following the Court's decision.

"Congress must address the damage done to Asian American and other minority voters by the Shelby decision," said Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF. "As elected officials take up important immigration, labor, and other civil rights issues, it is critical for Asian Americans to participate fully in the political process. AALDEF has successfully used the Section 5 preclearance process to protect Asian American voters in the past, but the Shelby decision threatens to leave us with limited tools to combat voter discrimination. We must do all we can to prevent efforts to thwart the growing political power of the Asian American community."

Advancing Justice and AALDEF's testimony can be found here.

Nicole Duran, Advancing Justice, 202-499-7027 x. 112,

Ujala Sehgal, AALDEF, 646 207 1497,