Texas federal court rules that AALDEF voting rights lawsuit may proceed

Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015

A Texas federal court has ruled that AALDEF's lawsuit on behalf of Asian American voters seeking language assistance under the Voting Rights Act may proceed.

The case, OCA - Greater Houston v. State of Texas, challenges a provision of the Texas Election Code that requires interpreters to be registered to vote in the same county as the voter who needs assistance. AALDEF asserted that this state requirement unduly restricts the range of individuals under federal law who are permitted to provide language assistance to limited English proficient voters. Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act provides that voters may choose anyone to assist them at the polls, except their employer or union representative.

On Dec. 3, 2015, a federal district court denied the motion to dismiss filed by the State of Texas. In a 12-page decision, U.S.D.J. Robert L. Pitman wrote: "In short, the State Defendants get the VRA wrong. . .the Texas Code Interpretation Provisions, sections 61.031 - 61.036, restrict voter choice in a manner inconsistent with the Federal Voting Rights Act."

AALDEF is seeking to enjoin Texas from continuing to impose unlawful restrictions on interpreters, declare the Texas state law invalid, and ensure that Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act is properly enforced.

Fish & Richardson P.C. is pro bono counsel in this lawsuit.

A copy of the decision can be downloaded here.

More information about the lawsuit and a copy of the complaint here

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For more information, contact:
Jerry Vattamala, Democracy Program Director
212.966.5932 x209
jvattamala@aaldef.org