Public Hearing: State of Voting Rights in California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Candice Francis / Communications Director, LCCR /  415.543.9697 x216 / cfrancis@lccr.com

San Francisco, CA – On Thursday, January 30th, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (Lawyers’ Committee) joins the National Commission on Voting Rights and DC-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in sponsoring a statewide hearing on voting rights. The Hearing will be held from 9am-4pm, in the Louis B. Mayer Room at UC Hastings College of the Law, 198 McAllister Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102.

During the 2012 election season, many of our pro bono attorney volunteers observed a number of barriers Californians faced in accessing their right to vote; and, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck a debilitating blow to voting rights, nullifying Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, it became clear that a nationwide assessment of access to this fundamental right was necessary. By opening this forum to the general public, we stand our best chance of gathering the evidence that is needed to discover whether those who are eligible, are able to cast their vote without any
encumbrance or other barrier to fair representation.

“As an increasingly diverse ‘minority-majority’ state, California is particularly susceptible to tactics that attempt to thwart the inevitable change in the balance of power. Vote dilution and other barriers to equality are well-documented and demonstrate that voting discrimination persists.” says Lawyers’ Committee Legal Director, Oren Sellstrom.

“This forum will examine current types of voting discrimination and other barriers to voting in California,” adds attorney Joanna Cuevas Ingram, Lawyers’ Committee Equal Justice Works Voting Rights Fellow. “And we’re hoping it will point the way towards solutions that ensure voting rights for all.”

This Statewide Hearing is free and open to voters, activists, elections officials and all with a stake in California’s elections. A panel of experts and witnesses will testify about voting rights abuses they’ve observed and encountered throughout California; the applicability of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in California; and, the need to strengthen the VRA to ensure that every eligible Californian is afforded a meaningful opportunity to participate in California elections. Public participation is encouraged and there will be opportunities for public comment; anyone who is interested may attend and/or speak.

Guest California Commissioners will include Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause; Alice A. Huffman, President, California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP; Cruz R. Reynoso, (ret.) Justice of the California Supreme Court and Professor, U.C. Davis School of Law. Dolores Huerta, President, Dolores Huerta Foundation and Co-Founder of United Farm-Workers of America (UFW), will be in attendance as a National Commissioner.

Many thanks to our Planning Committee, Co-Sponsors and Supporting Organizations:

  • Altshuler Berzon
  • American Civil Liberties Union of California
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  • Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP
  • California Common Cause
  • California-Hawaii State Conference NAACP
  • California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF)
  • Disability Rights California
  • Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
  • Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • National Action Network
  • National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
  • O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • The James Irvine Foundation
  • The Greenlining Institute
  • UC Hastings College of Law, Center for State and Local Government Law