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Civil Rights Organizations Release Redistricting Guide to Promote Community Participation in 2011 Redistricting Processes

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the Asian American Justice Center, and MALDEF release “The Impact of Redistricting In Your Community: A Guide to Redistricting”

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, three leading civil rights groups launched a campaign to promote their collaborative redistricting guide for the upcoming local, state and congressional redistricting processes.  MALDEF,the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and the Asian American JusticeCenter (AAJC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, have joined forces to produce “The Impact of Redistricting In Your Community: A Guide to Redistricting." (PDF 15MB)   

The coalition designed the manual for a broad set of audiences that include community members, activists and policy makers.  The manual provides the legal and policy framework for redistricting and outlines how communities can participate in the redistricting process, keep the line drawers accountable and help ensure that the voting strength of minority communities is not unjustly weakened.  Key features of the manual includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” section on redistricting, an overview of the redistricting process and the role of the Voting Rights Act, an explanation of the importance of community participation, particularly in minority communities, and a directory of state-by-state information on local redistricting information.

Redistricting will determine political representation for the decade to come.  During this process, the political lines are redrawn so that each district is roughly equal in population size based on the most recent Census data.  Redistricting affects districts at all levels of government – from local school boards and city councils to state legislatures and the United States House of Representatives.  Minority communities have an important role to play in the redistricting process to ensure that their voices are heard, their needs are addressed, and their rights are protected.

"Community participation in the redistricting process is vital, especially for Asian Americans," said Terry M. Ao, director of census & voting programs at AAJC, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. "If our social, economic and civic needs are to be met in relationship to local, state and national government, we must participate. Getting involved is the only way to ensure that our voting strength is not diluted and that all of our elected officials understand and represent our interests."

"Redistricting is one of the most important events in our democracy.  Too often, officials fail to draw lines that adequately protect minority voting strength and recognize increasing levels of diversity all throughout our nation.  Efforts must be made now to prepare communities to play a meaningful role in the process," said Kristen Clarke, Co-Director of LDF's Political Participation Group.

“Latino participation in the upcoming redistricting process is vital to ensuring that Latinos have a representative voice in Congress, in state legislatures and in local governments,” said Nancy Ramirez, MALDEF Western Regional Counsel.  “Fair representation is a concern for all communities, particularly for those that have been historically underrepresented.  MALDEF will be working closely with its civil rights partners in the African American and Asian American communities to encourage public participation in the redistricting process and to ensure that minority voting rights are not compromised.  This collaborative redistricting guide is the first step in promoting accountability of the line drawers and protecting minority voting rights.” 

With ongoing promotion of the manual, LDF, MALDEF and AAJC will continue to educate the public about why the manual and continued vigilance by minority community leaders during redistricting is necessary; the ways in which minority communities can collaborate to ensure redistricting serves as a vehicle to protect rather than threaten their representation; and the importance of participation within and collaboration between minority communities in all redistricting efforts.