Image from the MALDEF resource page

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) is a Latino legal civil rights organization dedicated to defending the “rights of all Latinos living in the United States and the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

The organization has a long history of fighting for voting rights in Texas and in other areas in the Southwest, dating back to its founding in the late 1960s. In the following decades, working in collaboration with the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, MALDEF filed an astounding 88 lawsuits related to voter discrimination and voter access, an effort that resulted in increased minority voter registration in Texas and beyond. The organization was also a leader in the 1975 campaign to influence Congress to expand the Voting Rights Act to include protections for Latino voters.

A key legislative ally in this campaign was legendary Texas politician Barbara Jordan, who vigorously championed the act’s expansion as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. New provisions in the updated law included mandates for bilingual election materials, as well as federal supervision of jurisdictions where minority voter registration fell below fifty percent.

In recent years, MALDEF has filed lawsuits challenging redistricted Texas election maps that the organization believed to violate the Voting Rights Act and create unfair conditions for Latino voters.

Additional Learning: “MALDEF Successfully Pushed to Expand the Voting Rights Act to Language Minorities”