October 6, 2016

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Dozens of counties in Texas are violating the federal Voting Rights Act by failing to provide bilingual voting information on their websites, including information on polling places, according to MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund).

"This is a critically important election for all voters," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "Elections officials should be facilitating participation by all eligible voters, including those who need bilingual assistance and whose right to that assistance is guaranteed by federal law."

MALDEF began contacting county officials last week after attorneys found 36 counties failed to ensure that Spanish-language information, such as voter registration instructions and new procedures for voter ID, is displayed on official election websites.

Under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act, counties are required to provide bilingual election information if more than five percent of the population, or 10,000 voting age citizens, belong to a single language minority, have depressed literacy rates, and do not speak English very well.

"More than 850,000 Latino eligible voters live in Texas counties that haven't provided election information in Spanish," stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation. "In a state as diverse as Texas, a bilingual website is a basic service to voters, not to mention a legal requirement."

In a letter sent to counties, MALDEF noted that much of the required information "has already been translated into Spanish by the Texas Secretary of State" and can be shared on a county's website.

Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth and is the third most populous county in the state, is among those contacted by MALDEF. Just over 16 percent of Tarrant's 1.19 million eligible voters are Latino citizens.

Others on MALDEF's list include Hidalgo County, where 85 percent of eligible voters are Latino citizens, according to the U.S. Census.

Although officials in some jurisdictions have indicated that they will move to address the problem, MALDEF lawyers said they worry that a last-minute fix may come too late to ensure that all voters can access information on registration deadlines or the start of early voting in time for November's presidential election.

MALDEF's letter comes amid growing concerns over efforts to suppress minority voting in Texas. This summer a federal court of appeals struck down a 2011 Texas law that sought to impose strict voter ID requirements, finding the measure discriminated against minority and poor voters. The law permitted voters to present a concealed handgun license but not college ID.

As of September 30, 2016, the list of counties that failed to provide bilingual voting information are as follows:

Titus County, Texas
Andrews County, Texas
Brewster County, Texas
Caldwell County, Texas
Frio County, Texas
Gonzales County, Texas
Guadalupe County, Texas
Karnes County, Texas
Kinney County, Texas
Medina County, Texas
San Saba County, Texas
Upton County, Texas
Val Verde County, Texas
Wilson County, Texas
Bee County, Texas
Calhoun County, Texas
Duval County, Texas
Hidalgo County, Texas
Jim Wells County, Texas
Kleberg County, Texas
La Salle County, Texas
Live Oak County, Texas
Nueces County, Texas
Willacy County, Texas
Zapata County, Texas
Cochran County, Texas
Dawson County, Texas
Deaf Smith County, Texas
Gaines County, Texas
Glasscock County, Texas
Lynn County, Texas
Moore County, Texas
Parmer County, Texas
Runnels County, Texas
Sherman County, Texas
Sutton County, Texas
Tarrant County, Texas

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund