February 8, 2011 | The Sacramento Bee | Original Article

Redistricting Shapes the Next Decade of Latino Political Progress

The maps that emerge after this year's redistricting process will determine whether Latinos have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, and Latinos must have a meaningful opportunity to participate in 2011 redistricting efforts, said Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund at a media briefing today in the nation's capital.

"We're seeing already that several states owe their population growth to the Latino community," said Vargas. "The growth of the Latino population is reshaping our nation's political geography.  The 2011 redistricting process will map the future of our representative democracy for the next decade, and those who are drawing district lines must recognize that growth and ensure that Latinos can choose their elected leaders."

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 prohibits states from creating districts that may dilute and/or divide the votes of Latinos and other underrepresented groups.  

"We call on all states to abide by the requirements of the VRA during this year's redistricting," said Vargas.

The media briefing takes place as the organization convenes Latino elected officials and community leaders from across the country for the NALEO Educational Fund's National Institute on Redistricting, a two-day gathering that offers intensive training and professional development on the timely issue of redistricting, a key component of our representative democracy.