WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Representatives Gene Green (TX-29) and Al Green (TX-09) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an investigation by the Department of Justice into the distribution of voting machines and polling stations for the March 1, 2016 Primary Election in Harris County, Texas.
Harris County residents experienced excessively long lines, waiting up to three hours to cast their vote, especially in predominantly Hispanic and African-American precincts.
“When people are leaving their polling sites to go home without having voted because the wait time is hours long, we have a serious problem,” Rep. Gene Green said. “We need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to facilitate voting, not making it more difficult. Every citizen has constitutional right and responsibility to vote.”
States and local jurisdictions are required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to ensure that all U.S. citizens, regardless of race or color, have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. The Houston members called on the Department of Justice to investigate the unequal distribution of equipment and remedy any attempt to hinder or deny access to any American.
“The long lines and burdensome amount of waiting time experienced by Harris County residents exercising their right to vote, especially in predominantly Hispanic and African-American precincts, on March 1, 2016 are deeply troubling and merit a request for the Department of Justice to investigate. These long lines and wait times were in stark contrast to the experiences of many individuals voting in predominantly Anglo precincts, such that the appearance of a discriminatory impact existed for some while they were attempting to participate in our political process,” Rep. Al Green said. “A healthy democracy must do all that it can to ensure its citizens’ right to vote is not impeded or rendered worthless. I trust that the Department of Justice will thoroughly investigate this issue, such that it can be appropriately remedied in the future.”