Texas legislature passes new voting maps but lawsuit awaits

Austin, Texas

Texas Republicans approved the redrawn U.S. House Maps that favor incumbents, decrease the political representation of growing minority communities and even though Latinos are the driving force behind much growth in America’s reddest state.

The maps were approved Monday night after Democrats protested over what they called a rush redistricting procedure that was too short and did not allow for much public input. The Democrats also condemned the elimination of minority opportunity districts. Texas now has seven House districts with Latino residents holding a majority in the House, up from eight, despite changing demographics.

” What we do in passing this congressional chart is a disservice for the people of Texas,” Rafael Anchia, Democratic State Representative to Texas, said before the vote.

GOP Governor. Greg Abbott will likely sign the amendments.

Civil right groups including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund sued Republican legislators before they were done on Monday. Plaintiffs claim that Republican mapmakers reduced the power of minorities voters by not drawing new districts in which Latino residents are majority. This despite Latinos being half the state’s 4 million residents since the beginning of the decade .

Mr. Abbott’s office didn’t respond to my request for comment.

Republicans claim they complied with the law when defending the maps. These maps protect Texas’ slipping hold by drawing more GOP-leaning votes into suburbs where Democrats have gained ground in recent years.

Texas has been repeatedly brought to court over voting maps. In 2017,, a federal court found that the Republican-drawn map had been drawn in an attempt to discriminate against minorities voters. Two years later, the same court ruled that there wasn’t enough reason for Texas to be placed under federal surveillance before it changed voting laws and maps.

The year that saw the overhaul of how Texas’ almost 30million residents are divided into political districts and elected representatives reflects a contentious year for voting rights in Texas. Two times, Democratic legislators walked away from an election bill tightening the state’s voting rules. They called it a brazen attempt at disenfranchisement minorities and other Democratic leaning voters.

The plan doesn’t create additional districts in which Black and Hispanic voters account for more than 50% the voting population. This is despite the fact that people of color have accounted more than 9 percent of 10 Texas’s new residents over the last decade.

Republican state Senator Joan Huffman, who created the maps and heads the Senate Redistricting Committee said that the plans were drawn “blind to race” and her legal team made sure the plan complied with the Voting Rights act.

The Texas GOP controls both the Legislature’s chambers, giving them almost complete control over the mapping process. Since the Voting Rights act was implemented in 1965,, the state has been required to defend its maps in court. However this is the first time since a U.S. Supreme Court decision that Texas and other states that have a history of racial disparity no longer require the Justice Department to scrutinize maps before approval.

However, the act of drawing maps in order to gain political advantages is legal. According to data collected by Texas Legislative Council from the last year’s elections, the proposal would make approximately two dozen state’s 38 legislative districts secure Republican districts. The state currently has 23 Republicans holding 36 the seats.

After negotiations between Texas House Members and State Senators, Houston-area congressional districts of U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee (a Democrat serving her 14th terms) and U.S. Rep Al Green (a neighboring Democrat), were restored. They unpainted the two men and redrawn Ms. Jackson Lee’s district.

Texas legislators also approved the redrawing of their districts. Republicans followed a similar plan, which does not increase minorities opportunity districts but would maintain their party’s power in both the House and Senate.

This story was published by The Associated Press.

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