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November 30, 2013

Latinos want U.S. to sue over LA supervisors' board

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is aggressively pursuing lawsuits over minority voting rights in Texas and North Carolina, but the Justice Department has not moved on evidence that the latest round of redistricting in Los Angeles County unfairly reduces the influence of Latino voters.

Nearly half the 10 million people in the nation’s largest county are Latino. But political boundaries redrawn in 2011 make it possible for Latino voters to elect just one of the five supervisors.

The administration has resisted calls to sue the county, despite the county’s history of discrimination against Latino voters in earlier redistricting efforts.

The inaction rankles some Latino activists who count themselves as strong backers of President Barack Obama.

“I support the Obama administration and the president, but frankly, Obama and the top people around him seem to be unaware on this issue.

Obama is somewhat blind to the issues of Latinos,” said Cruz Reynoso, a former California Supreme Court justice and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Reynoso said the administration seems more attuned to voting rights complaints of African-Americans.

He said the administration also appears reluctant to pursue a complaint against a jurisdiction that is dominated by Democrats.

“Most of the folk in Los Angeles have been supporters of the president, so why make them unhappy despite the fact that, from my point of view, there is great injustice going on,” he said.

In the wake of a stinging U.S. Supreme Court defeat in June that rendered useless an important enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act, the administration has focused its voting rights resources on Southern states that are controlled by Republicans.

The Justice Department has initiated or joined suits targeting voter identification laws and redistricting plans in North Carolina and in Texas, where Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott began moving to put the state’s tough voter ID law into effect just hours after the high court’s decision.

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