Election 2016

Latino Voters Sue Pasadena, Charging Discrimination

The suit is the first challenge of a local redistricting plan under the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court issued its Shelby County v. Holder decision.

 

The City of Pasadena is defending itself from charges of discriminating against Latino voters. The case is the first of its kind since the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act three years ago.

Houston Public Media's Coverage of Election 2016

Houston Public Media's Coverage of Election 2016

The case centers on a voter-approved redistricting plan for local elections. The plan changed the Pasadena City Council from eight single-member districts to a hybrid of six single-member districts and two at-large seats.

Under the old system, Latino voters had a majority in four districts and were on their way to claiming a fifth. Under the new system, they only hold a majority in three. City officials argue Hispanics now make up a bare majority of eligible voters in the city – and they can exercise that power in the new at-large contests.

Attorneys from the civil rights organization MALDEF are representing the plaintiffs. They argue the Pasadena redistricting amounts to discrimination, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. They charge that Mayor Johnny Isbell forced the plan through, voting with four Anglo members of the city council to put it on the 2013 ballot, over the opposition of the council’s four Latino members.

The bench trial is expected to run past Thanksgiving.

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