LULAC considers lawsuit over caucuses

March 5, 2008 5:06:35 PM PST
Big crowds, long lines, and plenty of confusion greeted caucus goers on Tuesday night. A day later, the Hispanic civil rights group LULAC says the entire caucus process might be grounds for a lawsuit.The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) told me today that it's considering filing a lawsuit against the Texas Democratic Party. LULAC's national general counsel Louis Vera told me that he believes the caucus process disenfranchises the state's Latino voters. Although the caucus numbers between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not final yet, LULAC has been contemplating the lawsuit for a few weeks.

"We had reports all night long and this morning of many, many people who couldn't stay there anymore," says Vera. "It was 9:30, 10 o'clock and they haven't even begun to vote."

Vera is also concerned that because the Primary allocates delegates based on turnout of the previous election, a vote for delegates in San Antonio or south Texas is actually worth less than a vote out of Houston or Dallas. LULAC isn't officially allowed to endorse anyone, but Vera and a number of high ranking officials within the organization support Clinton.

Vera says a decision will be made about the lawsuit when all the caucus numbers roll in, which could take a few weeks.

"What we are considering is whether or not there are violations of the Voting Rights Act, " he says. "I'm not sure if all the changes in the caucus system has been pre-cleared by the Justice Department."

I called the Texas Democratic Party today, and spokesperson Hector Nieto says he did not hear about the rumblings of a lawsuit until I called him.

"When you put a million people across the state in a caucus, off course you're going to have problems," says Nieto. "There will be people waiting, there will be people crammed into small rooms... All I can say is that this system was put into place for participation by all, and judging by the turnout, we had an equal opportunity for people to participate."

Vera says if they are filing a lawsuit, it will be done before the state Democratic Convention. He also says this is not about Clinton or Obama. It's about whether or not the voices of Latino voters are heard.

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