"Protect the Vote" is a statewide coalition, launched by the Texoma and Austin branches of the National Lawyers Guild, to fight voting discrimination at the local level across Texas.  
We are attorneys empowering communities.

Join us!  First, stay in the loop by joining the mailing list.  Second, contact us to join our coalition.  Third, learn how you can fight to protect voters' rights.


Background: The Vote is Threatened Across Texas.  


August 6, 1965: Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, because after 11 years of heated civil rights action following Brown v. Board of Education, it was clear local government would not respect civil rights without vigorous federal enforcement.


The crown jewel of the Voting Rights Act was Section 5's "preclearance," which required states with a history of rampant voter discrimination to seek approval from the Department of Justice before implementing laws or policies that affected access to polls.  That included changes "in the boundaries of voting precincts or in the location of polling places," "publicity for or assistance in registration," any change to assistance in languages other than English, etc. 28 CFR 58.13.  


June 25, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, eviscerated preclearance.  The former Jim Crow states that had been covered were freed to begin enacting any restrictive voting procedures they desired.

The forces of reaction were immediately emboldened.  Within hours, the Attorney General of Texas crowed that Texas was free to implement its Voter ID law (which it had not been able to justify under Section 5) and its district voting maps (which one Court had found found were implemented with the intent to exclude Texas' growing minority population).             

But most of the evil that will follow the demise of preclearance might ultimately be found in local jurisdictions, whose policy decisions get less attention than state-level policies.  
For example, Beaumont:
The city wanted to change its election procedures in an apparent effort to replace the black majority school board but it was blocked from doing so by the Justice Department. [City Council person Michael] Goetz says townspeople spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting to get federal approval for a law they already passed by referendum. He thinks now the town will be able to do what it wants.

Michael Goetz: "We feel like being out from under the burden of this coverage formula, we can go forth and we can have our elections and apply Texas law. And that is the way we in Texas feel like it should be."
Voting Rights Ruling By Supreme Court Draws Mixed ReactionsNPR (June 26, 2013) 












After the Voting Right Act was passed in 1965, every Texas city, county, and school district was required to prove any change in voting practices would not disenfranchise voters before they were allowed to implement the practice.  28 CFR 58.12.  It required took, but and any jurisdiction that wanted to escape the requirements could.  All it had to do was show 10 years of nondiscrimination  -- but only two jurisdictions in Texas have been able to do so.


Now, with preclearance effectively ended, local government subdivisions across Texas can begin enacting all sorts of policies that may disenfranchise voters, without any federal oversight to stop them.

Many that will begin experimenting with changes in voting procedure, and some will be emboldened to indulge in more direct discrimination.





We can expect to see more stories like this: Harris County Attorney investigates allegations of voter intimidation at polls, KHOU (Oct. 20, 2010).


Building a Coalition.  Fighting to Hold the Line.


"Protect the Vote" is a statewide program.  We are building a coalition that will fight to protect hard-earned voters' rights.

The fight will include:

1. Reaching out to to communities around the state.

2. Educating community members about their rights under the Voter Rights Act and how to monitor their local officials using tools like the Public Information Act and Open Meetings Act.

3. Offering resources and technical support for local litigation, for filing complaints with the Department of Justice, and drawing media attention to abuses.  

We will work with partners around Texas to hold the line.